I wonder how many people drained their savings to cover COBRA payments because they thought they’d soon find a new job. That’s why the new healthcare law, as flawed as it is, is a big step toward building a safety net:
The millions of Americans who lost their jobs and their health benefits during the recession often had no way to regain affordable health coverage, leaving them and their families at risk of financial ruin, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund.
The spate of layoffs during the recession catapulted 9 million more Americans — or 57% of those who had had health insurance in a job that evaporated over the last two years — into the ranks of the millions already uninsured.
In addition, 19 million people anxiously seeking private coverage over the last three years were either turned down or could not find a plan that was affordable and met their needs, the report found.
The Biennial Health Insurance Survey also found a whopping 60% increase in skipped care due to cost in the past decade. The survey reported that medical debt problems and out-of-pocket spending costs were on the rise as well, with 29 million Americans using up their entire life savings to pay for medical bills and millions more unable to afford food, heat and rent due to medical payments.
“The report tells the story of the continuing deterioration of health care accessibility, efficiency, safety and affordability over the past decade,” Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said during a noon press conference Tuesday. All this despite the fact that the United States spends more than any other country on health care, she added.
“Most recently it has failed the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the recession and lost health benefits as well, leaving them with no place to turn for affordable health care coverage,” Davis said.
The Commonwealth Fund report focused on the struggles of the 43 million adults under 65 who have lost their health insurance along with their job over the past two years.
“The silver lining is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has already begun to bring relief to families,” Davis added. “Once the new law is fully implemented, we can be confident that no future recession will have the power to strip so many Americans of their health security.”