May 1, 2008

Forget Love. What Would You Do for Health Insurance?

According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 7 percent of Americans said they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year for healthcare benefits.

“It’s a small number but a powerful result, because it shows how paying for healthcare is reflected not only in family budgets but in life decisions,” said Drew E. Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 60 percents of those who cited health insurance as a marriage factor live in households making less than $50,000 a year, and 40 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34.

“We don’t know a lot more about them,” Mollyann Brodie, who directs Kaiser’s opinion research, told the L.A. Times. “Just that they answered that of all the reasons for getting married, [health insurance] was also a reason, was surprising.”

More from the L.A. Times:

On a broader scale, the survey found that healthcare costs outranked housing costs, rising food prices and credit card bills as a source of concern. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said they had experienced serious problems because of the cost of healthcare, compared with 29% who had problems getting a good job or a raise. Gasoline prices were the top economic worry, with 44% saying they had serious problems keeping up with increases at the pump.

A companion poll also detected an important shift among voters: Independents in particular say they are more concerned about reducing medical costs than about increasing the number of Americans with health insurance.

A Kaiser poll from February found that 37% of independents wanted the presidential candidates to address costs first, while 32% cited the problem of getting coverage for the 47 million uninsured.

But in the latest poll, 46% of independents said the candidates should deal with costs, and 25% said expanding coverage should come first.

Speaking of presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain this week unveiled his healthcare plan.

In doing so, he “rejected calls for universal health coverage and reaffirmed his faith in the economic principles that have guided President Bush for eight years, declaring Tuesday that government’s role in health care should be limited to kick-starting a competitive marketplace so people can buy their own insurance,” writes Michael D. Shear in the Washington Post.

Good luck with that.

In a separate story, the L.A. Times reports on the soaring cost of health insurance premiums:

Workers with job-based coverage for their families saw earnings rise 3% from 2001 to 2005, while their health insurance premium contribution increased 30%, according to the study by researchers at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.

The average cost nationally of family coverage during the period increased nearly $2,500, to $10,728 from $8,281. The average cost for job-based family coverage in California increased more than $2,650, to $10,551 from $7,898.

Making matters worse –

Between 2001 and 2005, more than 30,000 of the 3.6 million private-sector employers offering health insurance as a benefit to workers dropped it.

As a result, the number of people in private-sector jobs that offered health insurance benefits declined by more than 4 million, and the number of people with private insurance fell by 2.4 million, or 6%, the study found.

“Squeezed: How Costs for Insuring Families are Outpacing Income,” a state-by-state analysis prepared by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, is available here.


3 Responses to “Forget Love. What Would You Do for Health Insurance?”

  1. Trisha Says:

    I can see that. My husband and I got married sooner than what we would have otherwise because of insurance. And that was a few years ago – things are much worse now.

  2. daretoeatapeach Says:

    I work in the San Fran Bay area and our insurance costs more than our rent. We have six employees.

  3. Nicky Grist Says:

    We won’t have truly universal health care until we eliminate marital and relationship status discrimination from all forms of access to care. The Alternatives to Marriage Project is dedicated to educating policy makers about marital status discrimination in health care and mobilizing unmarried people to vote so politicians won’t leave them out.

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