The Number of Uninsured Americans Continues to Climb
- < Older
- By Deb Shields
Through the years, the number of Americans who have health insurance has continued to change – often rising during times of financial booms, then falling again during periods of recession and unemployment. One of the key goals of the Affordable Care Act was to increase the number of people with health insurance coverage, and by mid-2016, the percentage of Americans without insurance fell to an all-time low of 10.3. However, since the start of 2017, the rate of uninsured individuals between the ages of 18-64 began to rise. Today, there are two million more Americans than there were at the end of 2016 who report that they have no health insurance.
Given that the past year has been marked by uncertainty in Washington about reforming federal health care legislation, this increase in the number of uninsured individuals might not seem too surprising. Further compounding the situation have been challenges with the marketplace exchanges, such as skyrocketing plan premiums and deductibles, increasingly restricted exchange plan provider networks and the withdrawal of numerous insurers from the exchanges. For many, an exchange plan is too costly, and may not even offer access to the type of plan or insurer they want, or providers they prefer to see.
But the alternative – not purchasing health insurance and simply taking a chance that you’ll stay healthy – is a risky gamble. Fortunately, there are low-priced alternative health insurance choices, such as short term health insurance, which can help protect your financial security and provide you the coverage you need.
Short Term Health Insurance – Comprehensive, Affordable Coverage
Often, individuals in search of health insurance discover that short term medical is a smart choice which meets their needs and budget.
Short Term Health Insurance Benefits
You’ll find that short term health plans coverage includes many similar benefits to what marketplace exchange health insurance plans offer. Pivot Health plans:
- Up to $1,000,000 in benefits per coverage period
- A range of deductible choices, from $1,000 to $10,000, plus choices for out-of-pocket maximum amounts, to meet your budget
- Affordable 20% coinsurance amount, and flexibility to choose copayment amounts
- Hospitalization, surgery and medical services coverage
- Physical therapy
- Mental health services
- Home health care and extended care facility
- On select plans, separate prescription drug benefits and copays on physician visits
Low Priced Premiums
One of the most appreciated features of short term health insurance is that it costs significantly less than major medical plans purchased on or off the marketplace exchanges. Depending on your benefits needs and age, your premium rate might even be as low as $50 per month.
Duration of Coverage
Short term medical plans offer coverage for specific periods of time, until you find a permanent health care coverage solution. Federal regulations stipulate that short term medical plans may last for up to 90 days of coverage per certificate of insurance. But based on your needs and your state’s regulations, you may be able to apply for and purchase up to four back-to-back short term health insurance certificates at one time through Pivot Health. The convenience of purchasing back-to-back certificates during your initial application is that you won’t need to re-qualify at any point during the duration of your coverage.
You may even be able to extend your short term medical coverage for almost two years. That’s because after your initial back-t0-back certificates expire, many states also allow you to purchase up to four additional consecutive certificates.
Starting and ending coverage is simple and convenient. Choose a coverage start date that works for you – anywhere from 24 hours up to 60 days after applying. You also may cancel your coverage at any time, with no penalty. Pivot Health even offers a 10-day “free look” period to ensure that you’re completely satisfied with your coverage. This means that you’ll receive a full refund of your premium if you purchase a plan and cancel within the first 10 days – assuming you haven’t filed any claims.
No Provider Network Restrictions
A key advantage that short term medical insurance has over marketplace exchange plans is the freedom to visit any health care provider. Many consumers appreciate having this flexibility to choose whichever providers they want to see because throughout the country, the trend is becoming more prevalent for exchange plans to participate in Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) arrangements – which usually do not pay for health care services by out-of-network providers. That means you have less freedom to choose the medical providers you wish to use.
Valuable Non-Insurance Benefits
Everyone loves to save, and when you select a short term medical plan from Pivot Health, you’ll receive valuable discounts on vision care services and products, as well as a prescription drug savings card for use at pharmacies nationwide. You even receive the ability to access 24/7 telemedicine consultations – an increasingly popular option for connecting with a doctor at your convenience.
The Growth of Health Insurance in America
The modern concept of health insurance – coverage that helps pay for health care services and products you purchase from medical providers – didn’t gain traction in the United States until the 1920s. Up until that time, most medical practices, technology and medications were still rudimentary. Patients were often treated in their homes, and there were few medically cured for serious illnesses or injuries.
As a result, most individuals purchased “sickness” insurance. This coverage was designed to provide income replacement for lost wages due to an illness or injury – comparable to today’s modern disability insurance coverage. At the time, many commercial insurance companies refused to offer private health insurance policies, because of the risk of adverse selection, and a perception that people would perhaps engage in more risky or dangerous behaviors after purchasing health care coverage.
Medical Advancements and Rising Health Care Costs
Over time, medical advancements spurred the public to increase its demands for health care. By the turn of the 20th century, patients began electing to have surgery performed in hospitals, thanks to new practices such as the widespread use of antiseptics. Lifestyle factors, such as a shift in the population from rural areas to urban centers – resulting in families living in smaller homes with less room to care for sick family members – also played a role in the public beginning to accept hospitals as treatment centers.
The invention of x-ray technology, isolation of insulin in the 1920s, large-scale production of penicillin, and development of vaccinations combatting diseases such as polio, led to a revolution in how people perceived health care. Visiting a physician for treatments, cures and even preventive care became ingrained in the country’s culture.
Naturally, patient costs continued to increase as demand grew for the newest treatments, technologies, medications and facilities. As physicians found their own costs for providing care also rising – due to higher quality care standards and stricter accreditation and licensing requirements being implemented by the American Medical Association – they increased the pricing for their services.
Modern Health Insurance Policies Created
As health care costs began to rise, it became essential to find ways for patients to pay their bills. In 1929, a group of Dallas teachers contracted with Baylor University Hospital to provide a set amount of hospitalization days for a fixed rate. Pre-paid hospital care plans grew in popularity during the Great Depression while both consumers and hospitals experienced financial hardships. Additional community hospitals banded together to offer these policies and reduce competition with each other, and eventually were organized under the name “Blue Cross.” Physician groups later organized under a similar pre-paid medical service plan arrangement, launching “Blue Shield” in the mid-1940s.”
From 1940 through 1960, the health insurance market grew exponentially, as commercial insurers began offering policies. Employers also began offering group health insurance plans. Not only did health insurance benefits serve as an enticement for employees, but employers benefitted from government policies which exempted employers from having to pay payroll tax on their contributions to employee health plans. Between individually-purchased plans and employer-sponsored plans, nearly 75 percent of Americans had some form of health insurance coverage by the late 1950s.
Recognizing the challenges that elderly and low-income Americans faced in purchasing health insurance coverage, the federal government passed legislation forming the Medicare and Medicaid programs in 1965. The programs helped increase the number of individuals with health care coverage and by the late 1980s, the percentage of uninsured Americans stabilized in the mid-teens. The uninsured rate peaked at 18 percent in 2013 and dropped to just over 10 percent in 2016. Now, with the cost of health care and insurance coverage higher than ever before, the number of uninsured Americans is starting to rise again.
Will Health Care Reform Stabilize the Exchange Market?
If Congress fails to take steps to reform health care legislation, many industry experts fear that the rate of uninsured individuals will continue to rise. Marketplace exchange insurers have started to release preliminary rate filing requests for 2018 plans, and state insurance agencies are reporting that most insurers have requested significant premium increases. Further, many insurers have decided to downsize their participation in a number of states.
Republicans recently announced that they intend to unveil a bipartisan bill to help stabilize the marketplace exchanges. What impact this bill will have on exchange premium rates and availability – should any legislation be passed – remains to be seen.
Short Term Health – An Affordable Coverage Option
There’s no arguing that health insurance is key for protection against the financial catastrophe which could be triggered by a medical emergency, but for many people, there’s no room in their budget to purchase an exchange plan. Fortunately, with short term medical, you can have the coverage that meets your health care needs at a price you can afford.