The U.S. health care system is in crisis. Health care costs too much;
we often get too little in exchange for our health care dollar; and
tens of millions of Americans are uninsured.
Our economy loses hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of
the diminished health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured. Rising
health care costs undermine the ability of U.S. firms to compete
internationally, threaten the stability of American jobs, and place
increasing strain on local, state, and federal budgets. As health care
costs continue to rise faster than wages, health insurance becomes more
and more unaffordable for more and more American families every day.
Yet, the recent financial services meltdown has led some people to
suggest that we cannot afford health reform and that fixing our broken
health care system will have to wait once again. But waiting comes
with a price. The crisis worsens every day that we do not act.
Premiums will continue to rise; Americans will continue to pay more for
less-generous health coverage; and fewer employers will offer health
insurance to their workers.
We must reform our struggling health system not in spite of our
economic crisis, but rather because of the impact health care has on
the American economy. The economic and social impact of inaction is
high and it will only rise over time.
The economic cost of failing to fix our broken health care system is
greater than the upfront expense of comprehensive health reform. In
2006, our economy lost as much as $200 billion because of the poor
health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured. This is by most
estimates as much as, if not greater than, the public costs of ensuring
all Americans have quality, affordable, health coverage. The economies in California, Texas, and Florida suffer most from
productivity loses stemming from the uninsured. Yet, Delaware’s economy
loses more per uninsured person -- over $6,800 per uninsured resident.
As health care costs continue to grow faster than wages, health
insurance will become more and more unaffordable for more and more
American families every day. The financial burdens associated with
health care and health insurance will only get worse over time without
action.The cost of the average employer-sponsored health insurance plan (ESI)
for a family will reach $24,000 in 2016. This represents an 84 percent
increase over 2008 premium levels. Under this scenario, we estimate
that at least half of American households will need to spend more than
45 percent of their income to buy health insurance.
New Mexico, Maine, and South Carolina will see the greatest increases
in the cost of family policies over the next eight years. In Maine,
the average family employer-sponsored insurance policy will top $30,000
by 2016. According to our estimates, households in South Carolina,
Louisiana, and Maine will have to spend the greatest shares of their
income in order to purchase health insurance in 2016. Half of
households in South Carolina will have to spend more than 62 percent of
their incomes to buy health insurance in 2016.
The financial protection offered by health insurance coverage will
continue to deteriorate if we do not act. Americans will pay more for
less and copayments and deductibles will rise. The average deductible nationwide will increase 73 percent to almost $2,700 by 2016. Average copayments will climb to $30.
Residents from Delaware and Vermont will see the biggest
difference in their deductibles in 2016. Rising deductibles combined
with higher premiums will make many Americans financially vulnerable to
high health care bills. Residents of New Mexico, Massachusetts, and
Hawaii will notice the biggest difference in how much they pay when
they see a doctor in 2016. In New Mexico, a single office visit could
cost an insured patient almost $50.
U.S. businesses, governments, and American families have all
demonstrated that health care reform is a vital component of their
long-term economic stability. Our nation will recover from its current
financial services crisis, and when it does the U.S. will still be
faced with a crumbling health system. As the data in this report
shows, the cost of failing to act is high and it will only rise over
For the full text of this report and the accompanying state profiles, click here. Additionally, our new "State of State Health" website lets you explore and compare states on a wide range of metrics.