Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Day for Medicaid Reform


By Timothy D. McBride

The increase in the uninsured to 729,000 in Missouri and 45.6 million nationwide can be traced in part to a sluggish economy. When people lose jobs they lose access to employer sponsored health insurance, and in Missouri almost 17,000 jobs have been lost in the last 12 months.

Spiraling health insurance costs have also made insurance unaffordable and led employers and employees to drop health insurance. Premiums have doubled in the last eight years, well above the 20 percent increase in inflation. This has led to an unprecedented drop in the percentage of firms offering health insurance from 69 percent to 60 percent nationwide.

Rising health insurance premiums are also cutting into the take home pay of workers. While health insurance premiums were doubling since 2000, wages increased only 24 percent. Thus, when employers set aside money for wages and benefits -- they had little left over for wage increases.

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