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More People Go Without Health Insurance In Florida

Armen Hareyan's picture

It seems that more and more people in Florida are losing their health insurance. This is happening either because they lose their jobs or because they choose not to have it as health insurance is not affordable and monthly premiums are increasing.

According to a report issued on Wednesday by the Washington consumer advocacy group Families USA some 3,500 people in Florida remain without health insurance every week. By the end of the year the number is expected to to reach 185.000. Across the country it has been estimated that 2.3 million more Americans will be without health insurance coverage. This makes the recent moves by the Senate Committee, Congress and the president on speedy health care reform more justified that the nation needs a comprehensive health care reform making it affordable so all can have access to it.

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According to the study, between 1999 and 2008 the average premium for health insurance for a family has increased by 119 percent from $ 5.791 a year to more than $ 12.600. These increases have led many employers to discontinue or reduce health care benefits. They simple could not afford providing benefits anymore. In fact, burdening the American employer with more taxes makes our economy less competitive in the world.

Under the COBRA law when a person loses his or her job the individual may remain with the health insurance company for many months by paying the total premium. This has proved prohibitive for the majority of the unemployed as the cost is very high. When you have a job your employer, if providing benefits, pays for health insurance and the employee pays a small portion of it. However, when you lose your job then you pay for your COBRA insurance's full cost. The federal government has some assistance in these cases, but many people do not know what to do or how to apply. Some people who had coverage for themselves and their spouses while working now are forced to leave out protection for the spouse because of the high cost of the premium.

The report, published by Families USA, based its calculations on the estimates made by the publication Health Affairs. However, perhaps the situation with health insurance in the state of Florida is even worse, as the report does not include jobs that are lost each month due to the recession. In May, the unemployment rate in the state rose to 10.2 percent, with the consequent loss of health insurance coverage for the unemployed.

Written by Armen Hareyan
Materials from DIaro Las Americas and Families USA are used in this story.