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Without Federal Reform, Number of Uninsured Could Expand Sharply Over Next Decade, Report Finds

Resource type: News

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The Urban Institute is an Atlantic grantee.

If reforms at the federal level are not enacted, the cost of health care for businesses could double and the number of uninsured Americans could reach 65.7 million within a decade, with middle-income families hit hardest, a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds.

Prepared by researchers at the Urban Institute using the institute’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model, the report, Health Reform: The Cost of Failure (28 pages, PDF), examined three scenarios for income and healthcare cost growth, with the worst-case scenario reflecting slow growth in incomes and continued high growth rates for healthcare costs. The report found that if healthcare reform is not enacted by 2019, total individual and family spending on premiums and out-of-pocket costs could jump by up to 68 percent; employer spending on premiums could increase from $429.8 billion to $885.1 billion; and federal spending on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program could increase from $251.2 billion to $519.7 billion.

The report also found that the biggest impact of leaving the system unreformed would be felt by families with moderate incomes that have less access to public coverage. Indeed, the number of middle-income earners without insurance could increase from 12.5 million to as many as 18.2 million by 2019.

“This report makes clear that as battered as our health system has been in recent years, unless we take action, the worst is far from over,” said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. “Without comprehensive healthcare reform, costs will continue to skyrocket, millions more will lose insurance, and the health of Americans will suffer. Congress must act quickly and decisively to make quality health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.”

Report Projects Up To 66 Million Americans Could Be Uninsured by 2019 Unless Health Reform Is Enacted.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Press Release 5/21/09. 

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