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9 Million Lose Health Benefits

An estimated 9 million working-age adults became uninsured last year due to recession job losses according to the new Commonwealth Fund 2010 Biennial Health Insurance Survey. The recession has stripped millions of people of not only their jobs but also their health benefits, putting their finances and access to health care at risk.

The survey report, which examines the health insurance of adults ages 19–64, shows that few affordable insurance options are available for the newly uninsured. Just 25 percent of adults who lost their employer benefits were able to go on to their spouse's insurance policy or find another source of coverage. And only 14 percent  continued their coverage through COBRA. Workers with low incomes fared even worse: 70 percent of adults with incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level who lost their job and health benefits became uninsured, compared with 42 percent of those with incomes of 200 percent of poverty or more.

These issues, borne by people across the income spectrum, illustrate why proponents say the country needs the Affordable Care Act, which was signed one year ago this month. Some reforms are already providing relief in the form of preexisting condition insurance plans, allowing young adults up to age 26 to join or remain on their parents' plans, small business tax credits to offset premium costs, and required copay-free coverage of preventive care, among others. Once the law is fully implemented in 2014, nearly all of the 52 million currently uninsured American adults, including those who became uninsured during the recession, will have access to comprehensive health insurance through a substantial expansion in eligibility for Medicaid, subsidized private plans through new state health insurance exchanges, and new consumer protections for private coverage. At that point, U.S. families will have financial and health security provided by a continuous source of health insurance, both in good economic times and bad.  Read more… 

 Source: The Commonwealth Fund, News Release – Mar 16, 2011


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