Report Says Failure To Reform Health Care Will Be Costly

Patriot (Clark, NJ) — Thursday, October 1, 2009

As policymakers continue to debate comprehensive reform of the nation's health care system, a new report commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) projects that if federal reform efforts are not enacted, the cost of failure would be substantial.

In every state, the number of uninsured will increase, employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) coverage will continue to erode, spending on public programs will balloon and out-of-pocket health care costs for individuals and families could increase by more than 35 percent over the next decade. While all income levels would be affected, middle-class working families would be hardest hit.

"We hear a lot about the political toll of health reform, but the cost of failing to reform our health care system will be felt most strongly by our state governments, our communities, and most importantly, our families and neighbors," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Now is the time to act, because delaying reform makes the problem worse. In just 10 years, the cost to American businesses for their workers' health care could double. The number of uninsured Americans could reach almost 66 million. Individual and family spending on health care would jump 46 to 68 percent, with middle-class families hardest hit. The consequences would be blind to politics and felt by Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. The only 'universal' thing to come from inaction would be the pain."

Researchers from the Urban Institute used their Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model to estimate how coverage and cost trends would change between now and 2019 if the health system is not reformed. The analysis examines three scenarios:

The report shows that within 10 years:

"Given these startling projections, it is critical that Congress moves quickly to pass a strong health care reform bill that ensures guaranteed access to high quality and affordable health care for all," said Eve Weissman, Health Care Campaign Coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund. "New Jersey residents simply cannot afford to wait any longer."

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