Healthcare Costs Continue Pushing Americans Toward Poverty

On Tuesday, there was ample good news from the Census Bureau. That good news included an increase of 5.2% in household income, a drop of 1.2% in the amount of people under the poverty line and a decline of 1.3% in the number of Americans that do not have health insurance.

However, one number that was buried deep in the report from the Census Bureau is not one that is positive. It is the Supplemental Poverty Measures that shows the steep healthcare costs continue pushing millions of people in the U.S. below the poverty line.

This measure, which was reported first during 2010 using data from 2009, calculates the rate for poverty under different types of scenarios beyond just the official numbers.

For instance, it adds up income from sources like tax credits and Social Security and subtracts expenses that are real life like medical bills and work costs.

When medical costs, defined as premiums for insurance, co-insurance, co-pays, cost for prescription drugs and other medical costs not covered by insurance are added in, 11.3 million or approximately 3.5% more people fall under the poverty line for 2015 than are show by official statistics.

That number has not changed that much for the past 7 years. The consistency reflects effects from the recession of 2008, the continual increase of costs for healthcare, especially for pharmaceuticals and the continued effort by the insurers as well as employers to give more costs to the patient.

Is there relief in sight for those 11.3 million? Tuesday’s report from the Census Bureau said the percentage of U.S. residents with health insurance for part of the past year was 90.9%.

For the low income, those who earn under $25,000 per year had the biggest decline in rates of uninsured at 1.6% in comparison to 0.8% for those earning $100,000 or more.

That is a sign that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act continues to achieve its top goal of increasing health insurance access, especially amongst the low-income patients.

Medicaid has done its part of increasing the access to insurance coverage. States that take part in the program for Medicaid expansion from the ACA saw a drop in their rates of uninsured of 2.3% during 2015, compared to 2.1% points in the states that did not expand, said the Census Bureau.

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