17 September 2009

Texas Leads in Uninsured

Last week Families USA released a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a recent U.S. Census Bureau report of Health Insurance Coverage in 2008, which underscored some harsh and startling facts behind the Bureau's figures.

While the Bureau found that the number of uninsured grew to 46.3-million in 2008 the report and analysis from Families USA claims that the Census numbers are "significantly understated" as a result of unemployment in 2009. Regardless, the number of uninsured today exceeds the combined population of 24 states, including D.C., according to Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the consumer health organization.

Here in Texas, the Schieffer for Governor campaign has leaped into the fray claiming that health insurance premiums for Texans have risen five times faster than earnings since 2001. According to Schieffer the increase for health insurance premiums have soared by nearly 92% at the same time that Texans pay the highest home insurance rates in the nation.

There is no doubt that, under Perry's stewardship, Texas has become ripe pickings for the Insurance Czars and Energy Company Oligarchs--yeah we also pay the second
highest energy costs in the nation--while at the same time the state has climbed to the lead in the percentage of residents without any health coverage.

Six million people, including 1.2-million children have no health insurance. Certainly cost is a primary factor behind this number as, according to Schieffer, health care premiums for the average Texas working family has ballooned from $6,638 to $12,721 a year.

Using a formula which attributes 1.1 million additional people joining the ranks of the uninsured for each 1 percentage point in unemployment, Families USA projects that there are closer to 50-million uninsured persons than the 46.3-million projected by the Census Bureau. In 2000 there were 38.4-million uninsured Americans.

Pollack suggests that were it not for public health programs such as Medicaid, CHIPs, along with
Veteran's and Medicare programs, that saw increases in use from 83-million in 2007 to 87.4-million in 2007, there would have been an even larger increase in the uninsured.

As with virtually every other social ill in this country, the lack of health coverage continues to be a larger problem in communities of color as only 10.8 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured while 30.7 percent of Hispanics and 19.1% of African Americans were uninsured.

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