Showing posts with label census bureau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label census bureau. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Georgia's uninsured rate drops but remains among the highest in the nation

While the number of Georgia residents without health insurance declined last year, Georgia remains one of only five states with uninsured rates above 12.0 percent.

States with Highest Uninsured Rates: 2015
In 2015, 13.9 percent of the state’s population was uninsured, which translated to more than 1.3 million residents.

“All Georgians and Georgia businesses are affected by this uninsured burden through higher health insurance premiums and the corresponding cost shift on employer-sponsored health insurance,’’ in a statement attributed to Earl Rogers, who serves as president of the Georgia Hospital Association.

Nationally, the uninsured rate is 9.4 percent with Massachusetts recording the lowest uninsured rate at 2.8 percent, as measured by the American Community Survey (ACS), according to a new report from the Census Bureau.



If there was any good news in the report, the percentage of uninsured Georgians has decreased over the past years. In 2013, 18.8 percent of Georgians were uninsured, and in 2014, that number dropped to 15.8 percent.


The drop can be attributed to more individuals receiving insurance through Healthcare.gov under the Affordable Care Act, and an aging population of people 65 and older who fall under the provisions of Medicare, the government’s other major health insurance program.

State continues to resist Medicaid expansion

Georgia remains one of 19 states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid to low-income families, although the federal government has promised to pick up all of the costs of Medicaid expansion.

The failure to insure the population is putting strains on hospitals in Georgia, especially in rural areas, where emergency rooms are required to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Without any form of health insurance, increasing numbers of residents are also finding their way to emergency rooms for non-emergencies, such as the flu, and then are unable to pay their bills.

The lack of an insured population also hurts employers. Employers not providing health insurance must put up with sick employees at their establishments who cannot afford to miss work or seek medical assistance.

Employers who do provide health insurance pay higher premiums to subsidize the losses suffered by hospitals that are required to treat uninsured patients.

When hospitals are unable to collect payments from patients, they then have to increase charges to other paying patients to make up for the losses suffered from uninsured patients. That results in higher health care costs to insurers and higher premiums to those with health insurance.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce prepares options to cover the uninsured

 Some Georgia state legislators, as well as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, are re-thinking their opposition to Medicaid expansion as more hospitals in the state struggle to stay open. Since 2013, five hospitals in Georgia have closed and many more are having financial difficulties, especially in rural parts of the state.

The health care task force, created by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, has developed options that they will bring next year to the Georgia General Assembly.

All three options include a requirement that individuals receiving health insurance must pay at least part of the premium costs, and all three options would require a waiver from the federal government because they differ from the standard Medicaid expansion.

Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that “any of these plans would serve as a game-ready playbook for lawmakers seeking a fiscally responsible and sustainable path to cover Georgia’s uninsured, revitalize a rural health care network in crisis and undergird our safety net hospitals. That’s important not just to the health of our families but also to the health of our economy, because no good jobs are going to come to a region that lacks access to quality health care.”

More information about the Chamber's work regarding health care in Georgia is available here.