June 27, 2005
Oregon Action and Northwest Federation of Community Organizations recently released their study "The Northwest Health Gap." This study reveals an alarming trend away from comprehensive, employer-based health care - and toward a health insurance system where almost everyone is one illness away from poverty.
Between high wage earners who have comprehensive employer health benefits, and the very poor and sick who are covered through public health programs, lies a rapidly growing population with no coverage or inadequate coverage. The health gap is growing as employers are financially forced to cut benefits because of skyrocketing insurance premiums.
The 2005 Health Gap Study builds on the 2004 Northwest Job Gap Study, which estimated the gap between the number of living wage jobs being created in the Northwest and the number of people needing living wage jobs. This report takes a closer look at the impact of health issues on the ability of families to be economically stable.
The Health Gap Study highlights the failures of the current health care system to provide quality, affordable coverage to people in Oregon. It also presents strategies for closing the health gap. These include long-term solutions focused on health care for all, as well as solutions that expand public programs, improve oversight over private insurance carriers, and address the trend in employers dropping health coverage. To read the entire report, click here.
The legislature's lack of attention to health care this session, will only make this gap more pervasive. If you have fallen through the health gap or worry you will, please call Katie 503-655-2793 to share your story.
Educator Insurance Purchasing Pool passes out of committee
Public school and community college employees across the state are facing a growing crisis over health insurance. Squeezed by double-digit increases for health insurance premiums at a time of education budget cuts, school districts and college boards are seeking to transfer the burden of health care cost increases to employees through caps on health insurance premiums, and higher co-pays and deductibles.
SB 639A to create a statewide health insurance savings pool for all school districts passed committee last week and is expected on the Senate floor this week. Its fate in the House is uncertain.
By combining purchasing power, a statewide health insurance purchasing pool will ensure that school districts and taxpayers know exactly how their healthcare dollars for school employees are divided between benefits, administration and profit.
School districts will be able to compare different plans based on benefits and cost. Taxpayers will have accountability on how much local school districts are saving on healthcare for school employees.
The main opposition to this plan is from the Oregon School Boards Association who earn millions from the insurance they sell to school districts.
The Weekly Dose
Health care spending for U.S. residents with private health insurance increased by 8.2% in 2004, about the same as the growth in 2003 and almost four times the growth in wages. -- Health Affairs, June 2005
Oregonians for Health Security
9813 SE Hwy 212 Clackamas, OR 97015
(503) 655-2793 (503) 655-2879 fax