While the Debate about Health Care Reform Rages On, 1 in 6 Americans remain without Health Insurance.
Over the past several weeks there has been a great deal of debate regarding our nation’s strained health care system and the recently established Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Last week, House Republicans voted unanimously to repeal the new legislation that would mend gaping holes in our nation’s tattered safety net by allowing parents to keep children on their health plans until the age of 26, barring insurers from denying service due to preexisting conditions, dramatically expanding Medicaid funding, and most importantly by extending coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans by year 2019. The American public, however, remains at odds on the issue.
Americans Remain Bitterly Divided About Health Care Reform
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that just short of half (45%) of the individuals polled fully support the new health care bill signed into law last March. The survey also finds that 18% of respondents favor a complete repeal, with another 19% wanting to repeal parts of it, and 17% indicating that they simply prefer to "Wait and See. A recent CNN poll had comparable findings, reporting that overall 43% of Americans are in favor of the new law and 55% oppose. The latest Wall Street Journal poll discovers even deeper divisions, reporting that the number of Americans for and against the new law are evenly split at thirty-nine percent (39%), with another twenty-one percent of the population having no opinion at all, and one percent (1%) being undecided.
Similarly, a poll conducted by CNN Opinion Research found that Americans are also split regarding the various provisions of the new health care law. According to study, 45% of Americans are in favor of either all or most of the proposals within the law. However, 34% of those polled oppose the majority of the proposals in the bill, while yet another 16% oppose the law in its entirety. A separate CNN poll found that some measures, such as preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions are widely popular, with 64% of respondents polled in favor of the measure. While on the other hand provisions like the requirement for all citizens to obtain insurance, has an incredible lack of public support, with a majority (60%) in opposition.
Let's Fix What Needs Fixing and Move Forward
In Tuesday night’s State of The Union Address President Obama characterized the Health Care Law as a common sense reform that protects the American people. He also reiterated his eagerness to work with congress in order to improve the law by making health care better and more affordable for all Americans. In addition, The President encouraged congress to "avoid fighting the battles of the previous two years." Instead, he urged them to work together to "fix what needs fixing" with the health care law and move forward.
Meanwhile, as the debate in Washington continues approximately 1 in 6 Americans continue to go without vital health insurance coverage; potentially putting themselves in jeopardy and adding to the collective costs that all Americans pay for health insurance.
According to the January Gallup Well Being Index, in 2010 16.4% of Adults were uninsured and Hispanics, low-income individuals, young adults, and African Americans tend to be among the most vulnerable. Hispanic Americans remain the most likely to be uninsured, with more than a third (38.9%) going without coverage in 2010. Low-income Americans are also more likely to have difficulty staying insured. Last year, 3 out of 10 individuals who earned less than $36,000 a year were uninsured.
Young adults (between the ages of 18 and 26), who stand to benefit directly from a key piece of the new health care legislation that allows them to remain on their parent’s plan until age 26, are also among the most likely in the country to be uninsured. In 2010, close to a third (28%) of young adults were without health insurance coverage.
Adults between the ages of 27 and 34, and those between the ages of 35 and 44 had the largest increase in uninsured individuals since the recession began in 2008 growing 3.2 % and 3.0% respectively.
Health Insurance is A Priority, But Jobs Are Primary Concern
At this point, although there are no easy answers, one thing is clear: Americans are still feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this December national employers under took 1,483 mass layoffs effecting 137,992 workers; and with unemployment still lingering around 10% in many states, most people are much more concerned about jobs and the economy than they are about health care reform. A poll released last week by CBS/New York Times found that although healthcare is a priority, for most, the top concern was the economy. According to the results of the poll, 43% percent of Americans believe that the most important thing for the new Congress to focus on is job creation - compared to just 18 percent who say the top priority should be health care. Fourteen percent (14%) chose the federal budget deficit, 12 percent the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seven percent illegal immigration. The poll also revealed that the bulk of Americans polled (56%) do not believe the impact of the health care bill on themselves and their families has been clearly explained. Only 41% say it has been explained somewhat or very well, and only a tenth of respondents believe that it has been explained very well.