Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2011 findings on health insurance coverage in the United States.
Despite a small reduction in the uninsured by 1.4 million from 2010 to 2011, 48.6 million, or 15.7 percent of Americans, remain without health insurance.
Another area of disappointment comes from the number of uninsured young adults: 27.7 percent of the uninsured fall in this age group. While this group saw a decrease of 2 percent—partially due to Obamacare’s extension of coverage to dependents up to age 26—it is much less than President Obama and his Administration promised. In August, the President claimed, “Nearly 7 million young people have health insurance because they’re able to stay on their parents’ plans.”
Moreover, as Heritage’s Drew Gonshorowski warns, there are unintended consequences from these “gains” in coverage: The net effect may hide the substitution effect. He writes, “In the case of insuring more young people, recent analysis shows that Obamacare encourages young adults to enroll in dependent coverage and drop their own coverage, causes employers to stop offering coverage, and will likely increase premiums.”
Today’s report also revealed that the alarming trend of dependence on government for health insurance continues to grow for the fifth year in a row, reaching 99.5 million, or 32.2 percent in 2011. Of those, over half—16.5 percent of all Americans—were enrolled in Medicaid in 2011, a program that provides low-quality care and severe access to care problems. A recent study shows that one in three doctors will no longer accept new Medicaid patients.
Obamacare makes matters worse by adding millions of Americans into this struggling program. In addition, uninsured rates are expected to continue under Obamacare. Despite spending $1.68 trillion on Obamacare’s coverage expansion provisions, 30 million Americans are projected to remain uninsured in 2022.
A better way to reform health care and reduce the number of uninsured Americans is through The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream, which would reform the tax treatment of health insurance to enable Americans, including those between the ages of 18 and 26, to purchase coverage themselves.
The Heritage plan would provide individual tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage, making it more affordable for individuals. This gives consumers control and choice and allows them to have coverage regardless of whether they have jobs or their employers offer coverage.
Furthermore, expanding options beyond work-based coverage gives workers insurance portability that helps them maintain continuous insurance coverage over a lifetime.
The American health system is in need of reform that helps the uninsured get health coverage of their choice, not an extension of government dependence that comes with Obamacare.