Iowans who buy health insurance for their families pay over $1,000 a year to cover the uninsured. That’s the conclusion of a new, national report issued by Families USA, a group pushing for health care reform.
Families USA president Ron Pollack says it’s a "hidden health tax" that those who buy insurance pay for to cover the uninsured.
"It is over $1,000 last year and probably this year, because more people lost their jobs and as a result lost their health care coverage, my guess is that it’s closer to $1,100 this year," he says.
According to Pollack, a thousand dollars is a "substantial amount" for families to pay to provide health care to the uninsured.
"What that means is that all of us, even if we have insurance, have a big financial stake in expanding health coverage to those people who don’t have it," Pollack says. "Because as long as there are tens of millions of people who don’t have health insurance coverage, when they get health care (treatment), we pay for it through this hidden health tax."
It’s not just families and individuals who buy private insurance who wind up paying for charity care, according to Pollack, as businesses wind up paying this "hidden health tax" in health care policies for employees. Pollack says that’s one reason why getting more Americans covered by some sort of government-paid policy will likely reduce premium costs for businesses and individuals.
"If employers provide health coverage to their workers, the amount that the employer is paying in addition for that health coverage to pay for the uninsured is over $1000 today," Pollack says. "That means that if we extend coverage, that hidden health tax to the employer can be eliminated, just as it would be eliminated for individuals who purchase family coverage on their own."
Pollack is holding a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. at 8:30 (Iowa time) this morning to discuss the issue.