An Iowa-based public policy group says it’s essential that steps are taken to insure that Iowans have access to affordable health-care options. The Iowa Policy Project says some 300,000 Iowans lack health insurance, and the number is likely to rise as the state continues to feel the effects of the recession.
I-P-P research associate, Andrew Cannon, says contrary to popular belief, not all uninsured in Iowa are poor. Cannon says it’s not a case of poverty for the uninsured, as he says five percent of the uninsured make 400-percent of the federal poverty level or more, which is about $88,000 for a family of four.
Cannon says studies show while insurance premiums in Iowa rose by almost 78 percent from 2000 to 2006, Iowan’s wages only rose by 20 percent over the same period. The I-P-P’ s executive director, David Osterberg, says small businesses in particular are finding it very difficult to provide insurance coverage for employees.
Osterberg says if you increase health benefits and they keep going up so fast, business owners wonder if they can every give anyone a raise again. Osterberg says the debate which says we have a good system already is wrong, as he says we don’t have a good system for businesses or individuals. The Iowa Policy Project also says the current debate must include the role of mandates in health care reform. Health care proposals in Congress build on the employer-based insurance system.
But the number of people receiving insurance through their employer has steadily declined from 2000 to 2008, while insurance premiums continued to rise. The I-P-P says Congress should examine the Massachusetts model for health reform.