Access to health care continues to be a major challenge in the United States. While there has been some progress made over the last few years (mostly due to expanded Medicaid as well as the Affordable Care Act), the country has recently taken a step back. The percentage of the population that is uninsured has been trending up since January 1, 2017, and since the start of the year over 2 million people no longer have health insurance.
The fact is more Americans had access to health insurance at the end of 2016 than at any time in our country’s history. Only 10.9% of individuals did not have insurance as of 12/31/2016. That was a record low. But even that number of over ten percent is still way too high; that percentage is equivalent to around 35 million that lack access to some form of medical care.
Where do we stand now, as we enter 2017? Well, the improvements that were made are slowly, but steadily, being reversed. The uninsured rate now stands at about 11.9% according to a survey from Gallup. While a ~1 percent increase in about six months may not sound huge, the fact is that is equivalent to anywhere from 2 to 3 million people. So this means tens of thousands of children, single moms, seniors, working poor, etc. no longer have health insurance, so they are at risk of bankruptcy, illness, and worse.
Unfortunately there is no one cause for this increase, and there is no one simple solution. Just go look at all of the headlines today as we progress throughout calendar year 2017. The politicians do not know what the best patch forward is, nor do the hospitals, doctors, or insurance companies. Everyone has different ideas as well as agendas. There are too few people (if anyone) looking at for the “regular” American who just wants some form of affordable coverage.
Some people will blame it on “Obamacare” exploding in early 2017 with increasing premiums, insurers pulling out of local markets, etc. This will definitely be a factor. Other people will blame this increase on the fact some states never expanded Medicaid using federal government dollars, and that too will definitely plays a part. Others just say insurance, whether from Obamacare or private plans, is just way too un-affordable…and that is a barrier too.
We are sure there are countless other reasons for 2 million+ people losing insurance, but there is no one easy thing to point at. That would just make like too simple as the solution would be much easier.
Solutions for the 11.9% of population
So what can be done to assist the 11.9% of the population that lacks health insurance? Where can they go to for medical care, either long term or urgent? Well, this is where it even gets more complicated.
In a perfect world, every single American would have access to health insurance that is comprehensive and affordable. This should be the goal. A lot of smart people look at this issue everything single day, many of them with their own personal and/or corporate interests. No one knows what the best solution for the “common” American is, or maybe they do not know what the solution is that the majority of politicians can agree on.
What we suggest in the meantime, for those that lack health insurance, is to use a community health care clinic. Almost all towns, cities, and counties have them. In some cases the care is free, or it could be income based. In either case a clinic can help the recent two million+ people that lost access to care, and they can also help the 12% of the population that now lacks insurance.