Without reform, millions could lose health care

Original source:

Nearly seven million Americans, primarily people in working families, will lose their health coverage by the end of 2010 if no major policy changes take place before then, according to a new report by Families USA, a progressive health care advocacy group. In 2007, the year with the latest available figures, the Census Bureau found that the nearly 46 million people do not have health insurance.

The report said that the nation's health care crisis has deepened due to sharp increases in unemployment rates, overwhelmed employers, and struggling families trying to keep pace with rising health insurance premiums. According to the report:

* Average annual family health insurance premiums rose by 119 percent between 1999 and 2008, from $5,791 to $12,680; * Employers offering any health care coverage at all from 2000 to 2008 declined by 6 percent; * An estimated 2.3 million people are losing their coverage each year, or more than 190,000 a month.

President Obama has repeatedly called for Congress to pass a comprehensive health care bill that will keep health insurance premium costs down and expand coverage before the congressional recess on August 7. However, differences between the House and Senate over how to finance reform have stalled progress on the bill. With other priorities competing for the attention of Congress, health care reform advocates worry that the sense of urgency toward reform would be lost during the month-long recess and that opponents of the effort will have a greater chance of defeating it.

In his weekly address this past Saturday, the president again renewed his call for Congress to pass a health care reform bill this year, saying: 'This is an issue that affects the health and financial well-being of every single American and the stability of our entire economy.'