Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Uninsured in Nebraska

by Kyle Michaelis
Nearly 145,000 Nebraskans have no health care protection, be it insurance or Medicaid, according to a study by the Nebraska Center for Rural Health Research. As a percentage of the population, this is better than the national average but is nevertheless a sad testament to our society's failure to meet the basic human needs of our less fortunate.

What should come as the biggest surprise to all those who turn a blind eye to this human tragedy is the fact that these uninsured Americans are NOT the dead-beats and do-nothings we tell ourselves they must be to quiet our consciences. Nearly 2/3's are members of working families, including 21% who are children.

The study was done on behalf of Nebraska's Health and Human Services System to help in strategic planning. Here are some of the other important findings about Nebraska's uninsured as reported by the Lincoln Journal-Star:
* Almost half — 46 percent — had incomes of less than 200 percent of the poverty level ($38,700 for a family of four).

* Sixteen percent of young adults, ages 19 to 34, are uninsured, the highest percentage by age breakdown.

* Almost one-third are middle-age Nebraskans, ages 35 to 54.

* Hispanics were nearly three times more likely to be uninsured (26.9 percent uninsured) than white or black Nebraskans.

* About two-thirds of the uninsured under age 65 without access to employment-based insurance don't buy private insurance because it is too expensive.

* About one-fourth of Nebraskans working for companies with health-care insurance didn't buy the insurance because it was too expensive. More than 50 percent who didn't enroll in the company plans were not eligible.
Read the full report (and wake-up call) here.


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