New Jersey Newsroom

Report: New Jersey Families Struggling With Health Care Costs

New Jersey Newsroom — Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BY TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

A new report made public Tuesday that sought to analyze the budgets of New Jersey families statewide shows that rising health care costs are exerting enormous financial pressure on families and illustrates the need for an affordability insurance created through national health care reform.

The report was released at the Statehouse in Trenton by the New Jersey For Health Care Coalition, which has been campaigning for approval of federal health care legislation.

Key findings in the report include:

"Everyday more and more families and businesses in New Jersey are finding it harder to afford health care coverage," said Eve Weissman, health care campaign coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund. "As Congress addresses the issue of cost in health care reform legislation, it is imperative they consider what 'affordable' really means for families in New Jersey and across the country. After everything is said and done, if millions of Americans still cannot afford coverage, this effort will have been pointless."

The report calls for the creation of a sliding scale affordability measure based on income to ensure that families are not required to pay more for health care than they can afford.

In order to ensure that health reform is successful in expanding access to quality, affordable health care, the report recommends: A subsidy that covers the entire cost of coverage for families making less that 200 percent of the federal poverty level or about $40,000 a year for a family of four and a sliding scale subsidies for families making between 200 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level, or approximately $40,000 to $80,000 a year for a family of four.

"What the report shows is that this is not a localized problem: we found that families all across New Jersey are feeling economic and health pressures caused by unaffordable health insurance," said Joe Fleming, director of PICO New Jersey.

"I don't want to have to bury any more parishioners who died before their time only because they could not afford to pay for health insurance," said the Rev. Heyward Wiggins III, Pastor of Camden Bible Tabernacle. "It's time we really made health care accessible for everyone."

The report was produced by the New Jersey Consumer Voices for Coverage Leadership Team. Between September 2008 and April 2009 group collected family budget worksheets and health care stories from 648 New Jersey residents. The group worked with Ramapo College School of Social Work Faculty and their colleagues to analyze the survey data.

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