Around the country, many groups are preparing for Cover the Uninsured Week, which begins May 1. Goals for the week's events include raising awareness about the growing number of Americans without health care and sending a message to Congress that health care should be a top priority. (See www.covertheuninsured.org.)
Over the last few weeks, Goat Rope has provided a number of factoids on health care issues. Here are some fresh ones:
*Most Americans without health coverage work and many would be considered middle class. In 2004, 8 in 10 uninsured people came from working families. In 2004, more than 1/3 of the uninsured earned more than 200% of the federal poverty level of $38,600 for a family of four.
*Heath care costs are increasing dramatically. In 1960, total spending on health care was just $27 billion or 5% of GDP. By 2003, it was $1.7 trillion or over 15% of GDP.
*While health care costs have increased, wages haven't. Between 2000 and 2005, wages were largely stagnant for many US workers, but health care premiums increased by over 70%.
*Fewer employers are offering health coverage. Between 2000 and 2005, the percentage of companies offering health care dropped from 69% to 60%. Cuts in retiree health care have been more dramatic. In 1988, 66% of companies with 200 or more employees offered retirees health care. By 2005, only 1/3 did so.
*Health care costs account for a large number of bankruptcies. They are factors in more than half of all cases and have been estimated to directly cause 28%. (For a WV take on the issue with national links, check out www.wvahc.org)
Perversely, the Bush administration blames the US health care crisis on the bizarre assumption that the problem is that we have too much health care and don't pay enough for it. Goats permitting, that will be the subject of tomorrow's rant.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED