With all the media coverage of the health care reform bill and the conflict between the two sides I found myself asking this question, why do we need health care reform? When I ask myself that question I feel it is my duty to then education myself on the matter and that is what I did.  Let me give you a quick run down of facts that I gathered from various places such as, the National Coalition on Health Care, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Economic Policy Institute.

  • The average annual premiums for family coverage increased $5,791 in 1999 to $12,680 in 20081
  • During that same period, the average annual worker contributions to the premium increased 120% compared to an increase of 44% in inflation and 29% increase in wages2
  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, insurance premiums are increasing at a rate of 4 times the rate of wage increase2
  • 2.7 million fewer people under the age of 65 had employer provided health insurance in 2007 compared to 2000 a 5.4% decline3
  • The U.S. population saw a growth in the number of people who had a health care burden in excess of 10% of disposable income from 15.8% to 19.2%3
  • In 2000 5.7% of total compensation was spent on health insurance premiums by the end of 2006 the spending amounted to 7.2%, all while wages fell 2.5% as a share of total compensation3

After reading all these facts and figures and the other accompanying material I quickly realized exactly why we need reform, the question is what is the “right” reform? Is it a one-payer system, an overhaul of the current private system or some hybrid?  I don’t have an answer to that question but what I do know is that what we have now isn’t working.

References:

  1. Kaiser/HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 1999-2008
  2. National Coalition on Health Care – Facts on Health Care Costs 2008 (pdf)
  3. Gould, Elise – The State of Working America pg 335, 336 & 348 (pdf)