||July 15, 2009
Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Bob Meissner, Deputy Director of Communications
Bryan Fisher, Press Secretary
1,480 North Carolinians Are Losing Their Health Coverage Every Week, as the Steady Rise of Health Care Costs Drives More and More Working Families out of the Market
These North Carolinians Are Part of a National Trend that Will Cost an Average of 2.3 Million Americans Their Health Coverage Each Year between 2008 and 2010
Washington, D.C.—Rising like a deadly tide, escalating health care costs will cause 230,990 North Carolinians to lose their health coverage between January 2008 and December 2010. In that same period, the number of Americans without health coverage is expected to climb by an estimated 6.9 million.
These troubling statistics are cited in a new report, “The Clock Is Ticking: More Americans Losing Health Coverage,” from the consumer health organization Families USA, which says the most important factor causing the loss of health coverage is the rising cost of health care premiums. Although the economic downturn is contributing to the problem, it is skyrocketing premiums—up 119 percent from 1999 to 2008—that continue to have the greatest impact on family and employer health care costs. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index, which tracks general inflation, rose by only 29.2 percent in the same period.
The report is the first-ever state-by-state projection of the number of people who will lose coverage between January 2008—the period immediately following the last Census Bureau report—and the end of the 111th Congress in December 2010. The report says, for North Carolina during that time period, an estimated 230,990 people will have lost or will lose their health coverage. From 2008 through 2010 in North Carolina:
• 1,480 people will lose their health coverage, on average, every week;
• 6,420 people will lose their health coverage, on average, every month; and
• 77,000 people will lose their health coverage every year.
“Clearly, health care costs are out of control, and these costs are making health coverage increasingly unaffordable,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said today. “This report spotlights the number of people who are losing coverage in the absence of health care reform.
“Employers that do continue to offer health coverage are being forced to pass on the rising costs to their employees by imposing higher premiums or copayments or by offering plans that cover fewer benefits,” Pollack said. “Other employers are choosing not to offer coverage at all because it is simply too expensive. Between 2000 and 2008, the share of firms offering health coverage declined by 6 percentage points, with small businesses being the most likely to drop coverage.”
For Pollack, and for individuals and organizations across the political spectrum, the data in the report represent a status quo that can no longer be tolerated.
“With each passing week, more Americans are losing their health coverage,” Pollack said. “Even those people who have not lost insurance are beginning to understand that this rising tide of premiums threatens them and their families.
“We have a wonderful opportunity now—with a broad consensus in support of action and momentum—to enact meaningful health reform. The longer Congress waits to act, the more North Carolina families will lose coverage.
“Congress needs to act expeditiously to pass health reform legislation,” Pollack said.
The report is available online at http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/clock-is-ticking.pdf, and a copy of the report methodology is available upon request.
Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan and advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
1201 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1100 · Washington, DC 20005
202-628-3030 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org · www.familiesusa.org