New Georgia and Florida Health Plans Unlikely to Reduce Ranks of Uninsured

Source: Judith Solomon, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 1, 2008

From the abstract:
This year, Georgia and Florida — states in which the percentage of people who are uninsured is well above the national average of 18 percent — have enacted legislation aimed at decreasing the number of uninsured residents. Georgia created new tax breaks for high-deductible health plans, while Florida will allow private insurance companies to sell “bare-bones” policies offering limited benefits. These initiatives, which differ markedly from the comprehensive health reform plans that Massachusetts and Vermont enacted in 2006 (and that 13 other states have been considering), share some key characteristics:
• Neither approach provides a targeted subsidy to help low-income people, who make up the bulk of the uninsured, afford coverage. About two-thirds of uninsured Americans have incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line ($35,200 for a family of three); three-quarters have incomes below 300 percent of the poverty line ($52,800 for a family of three). Most of these individuals cannot afford coverage without subsidies to help pay for it.
• Neither plan is likely to lead to an appreciable increase in the number of people with health coverage, since neither includes the subsidies needed to make coverage affordable.
• Many people who do get coverage through these initiatives will be underinsured. Many could face high out-of-pocket costs and have problems paying their medical bills.

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