Report: Health insurance reform could provide coverage to half a million uninsured Coloradans

A report released this week by Families USA, a nonprofit promoting greater health care access, predicts that the Senate Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would bring health insurance coverage to over half a million Coloradans.

medicineOn the other hand, failure to act would put 138,000 additional Coloradans on the rolls of the uninsured by 2019, says the report. That would bring Colorado’s total uninsured population to nearly one million.

The report argues that increasing access to health insurance has far-reaching benefits. For example, it will likely increase job mobility, as individuals are able to focus on what jobs are best for them—not which jobs offer the best health insurance.

In our current system, where some employers offer health insurance and others don’t, the labor market functions inefficiently. People who need or want the protection that health coverage provides are more likely to remain in their jobs in an attempt to keep their coverage. This phenomenon, known as “job lock,” reduces job mobility by an estimated 25 percent.

The report also points out that the uninsured are currently costly to the insured, who pay their costs in the form of a hidden health insurance tax:

In 2008, the uninsured paid an average of 37 percent of the cost of their care out of their own pockets. Few, however, can afford to pay for the full cost of care. Government and charity programs pick up a share, but a portion—known as “uncompensated care”—remains unpaid. To cover the cost of this uncompensated care, health providers charge higher rates to insurance companies, and these increases are then shifted to those who have private insurance through higher premiums. This creates a “hidden health tax,” which added more than $1,000 to family premiums in 2008.

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Katie Redding

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