31 March 2009

Some Hard Data On Michigan's Uninsured

priority health michigan health insuranceOriginally Posted at ABC12 News

The number of people without Michigan health insurance coverage is expected to grow exponentially in the future.

As we wind down Cover the Uninsured Week on ABC12, HealthFirst reporter Leslie Toldo has some of the hard facts about the state of health care in Michigan.

There are many people who qualify for free or low-cost insurance coverage, but don't know that it's available.

Fortunately, one Fenton woman found that out, quite literally, before it was too late.

The number of people without insurance in our state is high and the number of people who are actually on some type of public assistance is even higher.

Today we go back to a town hall meeting held in Flint on Thursday to get some insight from the state's top experts.

Right now, one-in-six Michiganders and one-in-three children are on Michigan Medicaid insurance. One-in-four people in the state is covered by some type of public assistance.

According to the director of Michigan's Department of Community Health, one quarter of the state's general fund goes to Medicaid coverage.

Janet Olszenwski is the director of the state Department of Health. "That's a tremendous amount of investment. That's money that can't be used for education, that can't be used for other needs the citizens have. But it's money that goes to protecting children, the elderly, the disabled and Michigan womens' health."

The resulting good news, according to our panelists, is Michigan has the ninth-lowest number of children who do not have health coverage.

Sadly, according to the Marianne Udow-Phillips, the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation in Ann Arbor, there are still 150,000 kids who are not covered and the number is going up. "In one year we saw a very large increase in the percentage of our children who are uninsured. We went from having 4.7 percent of our children who are uninsured to 6.2 percent who are uninsured."

Finally, our panelists pointed out that those on public assistance and those without a Michigan health insurance company are not the only ones feeling the pinch.

"Increasingly, those who have private coverage are having great difficulty in affording that coverage and affording care because all of us have seen increases in our co-pays and our deductibles. And you see that in our data a 25 percent increase in a relatively short period of time," Udow noted.

Uncompensated care equates to costs hospitals have to eat because unpaid or underpaid bills increased by 68 percent last year.

We have a link to more of Michigan's specific stats at abc12. com, as well as more information about how to get help finding coverage.

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