Another factor, which increases the number of working uninsured, is the increase of healthcare costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employees costs have risen by 47% and employers have seen a 20% increase. The employees higher percentage can be attributed to the fact that employers are shifting some of the increased costs to the employee through higher deductibles and increase co-payments.
The U.S. government, at both the state and federal level attempt to help the poor, the elderly, the disabled and uninsured children through the Medicare, Medicaid, and the Childrens Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) programs. Unfortunately, if you live above the poverty line and are between the ages of 18-64 there is very little help available.
Being uninsured means a lower quality of life and a decrease in the length of ones life. According to the Institute of Medicine, one in five adults without health insurance report to be in fair or poor health; for people with continuous healthcare coverage the statistic is one in nine — almost double. The Institute provides four examples of the personal health costs of not having continuous healthcare coverage:
“1) Uninsured adults have a 25% greater mortality risk than adults with coverage. About 18,000 excess deaths among people younger than 65 are attributed to lack of coverage every year. This mortality figure is similar to the 17,500 deaths from diabetes and 19,000 deaths from stroke within the same age group in 2001.
2) Uninsured women with breast cancer have a risk of dying that is between 30% and 50% higher than for insured women.
3) Uninsured car crash victims were found to receive less care in the hospital and had a 37% higher mortality rate than privately insured patients.
4) Uninsured individuals with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, end-stage renal disease, HIV infection, and mental illness have consistently less access to preventive care and have worse clinical outcomes than do insured patients.”
Life transitions — loss of employment, transitioning between jobs and no longer being covered by a parents health insurance policy create points of vulnerability for individuals. To help with loss of employment, the federal government created the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) to provide for 18 months of continuous coverage when someone leaves a job; however, COBRA costs 102% of the total premium of the former employers total costs for an individual employee, including the portion the employee had previously contributed. The high costs of COBRA are often too much for the former employee to.