Washington Post Columnist Examines Effects of Growing Uninsured PopulationWashington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary on Sunday examined how the increasing number of uninsured affects all U.S. residents, even those with health coverage. According to the Post, the issue of the uninsured in the U.S., which has been a major topic of discussion during the 2008 presidential campaign, is "most acute" within black and Hispanic communities as many of their members have low-paying jobs that do not have health care benefits or jobs in small businesses that do not provide health coverage, the Washington Post reports. A recent analysis of U.S. Census data by the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org found that 36% of Hispanics do not have health coverage, 22% of blacks are uninsured, compared with 13% of whites.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said the cost of coverage for U.S. residents who have insurance is increasing because the number of uninsured keeps rising. According to a Families USA study, unpaid health care expenses for the uninsured added an average $922 in 2005 to premiums for employer-sponsored health plans, and the extra costs could increase to $1,502 in 2010. In addition, employers increasingly are shifting more costs to workers, which might make it difficult for some employees to afford coverage in the future.
Maria Gomez -- CEO of Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care in Washington, D.C. -- said, "What we are seeing is a lot of people coming in who cannot qualify for government programs" because their salaries are too high, but who cannot afford private health coverage. Jennifer Ng'andu, associate director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza, said, "The numbers are just unbelievable," adding, "I'm very excited the discussion about this has been generating a lot of attention. But now our leaders have to start thinking about how we move forward to get people access to health care" (Singletary, Washington Post, 3/16). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.