As Congress debates health care reform, a study finds health insurance costs have bounded in Nebraska and nationwide since the mid-1990s, when major reforms were last considered. John Lumpkin, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Nebraska’s seen little progress in getting more people coverage, while health care cost increases far outpaced our salaries.
“In Nebraska, there’s been a significant increase in the number of people who are uninsured and these numbers are from 2007, so they don’t reflect what’s happened in the economic downturn,” Lumpkin says. “This number has increased from 149-thousand in 1994 to over 223-thousand in 2007.”
He says as the costs increase, more and more people are going to be forced to make a choice between paying for health insurance and paying for food. Lumpkin says the cost of paying for one year of health insurance has bounded year after year for more than a decade. He says, “The cost of health insurance has increased 63-percent in Nebraska as compared to an increase of 61-percent nationally, so it’s a significantly larger cost people are having to pay in Nebraska versus in the nation.”
The study found U-S workers’ insurance costs have risen nearly eight times faster than incomes. Still, Lumpkin says he’s optimistic our nation’s leaders will find a way to rectify the deteriorating situation. “Absolutely, I think there’s hope, Lumpkin says. “We’re having very serious conversations in Washington about health care reform and covering the uninsured. People who don’t have health insurance live sicker and die younger. We believe it’s time for congress to do something about it, to work with the White House and find a solution.”
The New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the country’s largest philanthropic organization devoted exclusively to health and health care. For more information on the foundation’s study, visit: “www.CoverTheUninsured.org“.