Fewer get health insurance from employer

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Fewer Americans and fewer Georgians are getting health insurance through their employers, and those who do are paying a lot more, according to a study released Tuesday from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A separate report released simultaneously from the Urban Institute said that provisions in the Affordable Care Act should help smaller employers offer health insurance but that advocates were split on whether it really would work.

Looking at two-year averages, the foundation reported that since 1999-2000, the percentage of people getting employer-sponsored insurance in 2008-09 declined by 9.5 percentage points in Georgia, from 69.3 to 59.8, compared with a drop of 8 points nationally, from 69.4 to 61.4 percent. Premiums over that same period in Georgia skyrocketed by 79 percent for individuals and 75 percent for families, compared to 82 percent and 75 percent nationally, according to the report.

Those numbers were not surprising to Holly Lang, the director of the Hospital Accountability Project for consumer group Georgia Watch, particularly in light of the recession.

"We had it a little bit worse than the national average," she said. "Inevitably, folks are going to look to scale back costs and to do whatever they can to save money. So unfortunately, one of those things to go we've seen has been health insurance offered by the employer."

Virginia Galloway, the state director for Americans for Prosperity Georgia, called the decline troubling.

"Employers continue to drop coverage as health care costs sky-rocket," she said.

That could force people into buying their own insurance, and they find that they probably can't afford it or won't be offered it because of pre-existing conditions, which won't be addressed for adults by the Affordable Care Act until 2014, Lang said.

A federally created health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions recently dropped its premiums by 15.5 percent but about a month ago only 515 people in Georgia had signed up, Lang said. She estimated that perhaps 100,000 to 200,000 people in Georgia would be eligible and are likely the working poor who wouldn't qualify for other programs.

"What it does is just leave uninsured patients who are going to be reliant on hospital indigent/charity care programs or the use of local clinics or, unfortunately for many, just not seeking care at all," Lang said. "And that's where we become very concerned."

That delay in care often results in more advanced disease, "which is expensive to the patient, it is expensive to the hospital, it is expensive to everyone," she said.

The analysis by the Urban Institute points to tax breaks through the Affordable Care Act, some of which took effect in 2010, that should make it easier for those smaller employers, who traditionally struggle to offer health insurance. Those with fewer than 50 employees could see their costs decrease by 12 percent, the report estimated. When fully implemented, the reforms will slightly increase health insurance costs for those firms with 50-99 employees -- by 1.2 percent -- but the report expects insurance rates for those employers to remain relatively stable.

Galloway, however, said the reforms are "not the solution":

"The Congressional Budget Office itself estimates at least 10 million to 12 million workers will lose their employer-sponsored insurance starting in 2014. Many will be shifted into Medicaid."

In testimony before Congress on March 30, the Congressional Budget Office actually estimated that 1 million fewer people would get employer-sponsored insurance, beginning in 2018, with 16 million more people covered by an expanded Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs and 23 million purchasing insurance through the Insurance Exchanges. The uninsured were decreased by 33 million.

"Individuals and employers want choices, not federal mandates, to control rising costs," Galloway said.

Lang said it is a shame the issue has become so politicized because many have not taken the time to see what is actually beneficial to them in the new law.

"We strongly feel that if folks were more aware of how they could benefit from this and were able to push political leanings aside and just take advantage of what is a pretty good deal for folks, they would benefit more," she said.

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bdouglas
5385
Points
bdouglas 06/21/11 - 11:47 am
0
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My employer just got rid of

My employer just got rid of the age bracketed premiums for our health coverage and went to a blanket premium for every employee. So now my insurance as a 30 year old (the age group that typically costs a lot less to cover) *tripled* what it was previously, while anyone over the age of, say, 65 (which is quite a few in this workplace, and the ones who cost the system the most) are now paying 1/3 of what they did before. Saves the company a lot of money to switch to this plan because everyone pays the same thing, but then the employees get taken for a ride. I'm fortunate that I can afford it still with my current job, but I'm sure many aren't so fortunate.

My previous employer offered ONE insurance plan with a blanket premium for every employee, and also had a lot of older employees on payroll, one who had even had a heart transplant. This made their premiums skyrocket to well over $600 a month, but because of pre-existing conditions I couldn't get an individual plan and was forced to have this outrageous policy. This federal insurance for those with pre-existing conditions is a joke. The cost of that one was worse than the crappy $600+ a month insurance my previous employer offered.

seenitB4
90757
Points
seenitB4 06/21/11 - 12:06 pm
0
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I understand your point

I understand your point bdouglas but here is the deal.....most people don't use their health insurance till they get over 50 or so....in my 20-30-40s I rarely had to use mine......but believe me if you live long enough..say 55 or so...you too will be trotting to the doctor just like the rest of us....we paid for insurance too when we were younger & others were using it---no one escapes getting old.....getting older also brings some health issues...the new gov. care isn't the right answer either....maybe oneday congress will get it right....but I doubt it though....with the high paid lobbyist working the system.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 06/21/11 - 12:13 pm
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0
I have paid for my portion of

I have paid for my portion of insurance and been covered by an employer for many years. My company recently change carriers and I went to get my prescriptions refilled at WalGreens and the Pharmacy Tech told me "Mam, you will be better off to go with our unisured plan than your new carrier". Pretty sad, but the even sadder part is I work in the medical field and I know that the providers are getting less and less compensation with every claim. It is a joke how much carriers now pay on medical services. This tells me that the Insurance Companies are the ones now making the money.

Dudeness
1545
Points
Dudeness 06/21/11 - 01:18 pm
0
0
This will only get worse. A

This will only get worse. A recent survey shows that 33-50% of employers will drop their health care benefits once the new health care law fully kicks in due to the disincentives in the law to continue providing coverage. This shouldn't be a surprise.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/21/11 - 01:46 pm
0
0
Here is an interesting story
Unpublished

Here is an interesting story I came across the morning.

"North Carolina man robs store for a dollar so he can get health care in prison for medical problems"

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/06/21/2011-06-21_north_car...

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/21/11 - 01:46 pm
0
0
North Carolina man robs store
Unpublished

North Carolina man robs store for a dollar so he can get health care in prison for medical problems:

seenitB4
90757
Points
seenitB4 06/21/11 - 01:51 pm
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0
This thing about having cobra

This thing about having cobra is a joke.... how many can afford 500-600 a month w/o a job??

allhans
24005
Points
allhans 06/21/11 - 02:13 pm
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Don't you love Obamacare...

Don't you love Obamacare... and the best is yet to come!

bdouglas
5385
Points
bdouglas 06/21/11 - 02:34 pm
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SeenitB4: No, I don't think

SeenitB4: No, I don't think you understand my point, because you basically repeated what I said in different words. The fact that people my age don't need to use their insurance as often and that people your age *do* is exactly what I was getting at. The age bracketed system made complete sense, but now that my employer switched to a blanket premium for everyone, I'm paying 3 times as much for the same (or LESS as is the case for me now) care I was getting before, while the folks who put more burden on the system by needing it more often get their premiums sliced by 2/3. Then again, this is pretty much how the welfare system works, too, so why am I surprised?

As for COBRA coverage...I was unemployed for 8 months a couple years ago, and the one GOOD thing that came from all the legislation that went with the ARRA was the COBRA assistance that it provided. It cut my COBRA premium down to about 30% of what it would have been, which I would not have been able to afford otherwise.

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/21/11 - 02:40 pm
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0
POTUS: "If you like your

POTUS: "If you like your healthcare coverage, you can keep your healthcare coverage..." Or at least until we decide to remove the waivers that were given to mask a horrible law and help out my buddies in the meantime... Another example of politicians putting their ego's above the country and whats best for their citizens. When will we learn? Keep voting in the same people, you're going to keep getting the same results. Think you'll ever see congress bring up term limits for them? H*ll no.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 06/21/11 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Don't worry everyone. A huge

Don't worry everyone. A huge "error" in obamacare was just discovered. Now it appears that 3 MILLION middle class citizens will soon be able to get "free" (to them) govt healthcare - medicaid.

They say it was an error. I say it was intentional.

I wonder how this will affect the price of obamacare? Can't be good. By my math it will be in the BILLIONS - per year.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110621/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_health_overhaul...

As I said, don't worry. We are in good hands. The govt is looking out for us. They are so competent. They got us into this economic mess, they can get us out!

No, don't laugh....it's true. They really, really care. And they are really, really competent. NOT!!!!!

tckr1983
360
Points
tckr1983 06/21/11 - 04:40 pm
0
0
Dont worry... We had to pass

Dont worry... We had to pass the law, to find out what was in it... SURPRISE! Jokes on the American people.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 06/21/11 - 05:25 pm
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bdouglas I understand your

bdouglas I understand your point about age, smoking premium discounts and all that. What you have not taken into account is females in your age bracket are very costly, maternity care is expensive and when a child is born with major problems they attach to that females medical sponsor whether it be her employer, private insurance or a spouses coverage. Many females for that reason have no maternity benifits and the cycle starts with public heath care. Because the mother is insured but with no benefits unless she has a very health bank account she is eligible for Medicaid. Because mother has no maternity benefits child automatically is enrolled in Medicaid product, this is the exception if either the mother or father are pretty wealthy.

Again the Private Health Insurance Carriers have encouraged the female who potentially could get pregnant not to seek maternity benefits because of cost. With no coverage we the tax payers take care of 2 people with the ability to provide their own coverage. Blame it on age, sex or whatever you want or rates will continue to rise and our benefits will continue to be less and less.

allhans
24005
Points
allhans 06/21/11 - 06:51 pm
0
0
A newborn is covered only if

A newborn is covered only if you have family coverage, I believe.
The parent is responsible for the bill otherwise.
~This is not concerning those on Medicaid, we know that they get everything free of charge.~

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 06/21/11 - 08:32 pm
0
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When you are of child bearing

When you are of child bearing age you can choose not to be enrolled in a maternity plan at a much cheaper rate family or single. When you get an EOB stating you have no maternity care Medicaid will most times pick up as secondary carrier.

bdouglas
5385
Points
bdouglas 06/22/11 - 08:36 am
0
0
@OhWell Those females also

@OhWell Those females also pay a much higher premium than males like myself. The premium under the previous age bracketed plan I had was about $100 more for females. So yeah, they do cost the system extra, but at least on my previous policy they also paid for it.

seenitB4
90757
Points
seenitB4 06/22/11 - 09:24 am
0
0
Doesn't that seem unfair to

Doesn't that seem unfair to the female....I mean after all how did she get pregnant??

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