The cost of uninsured in Indiana is rising again; the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, small businesses, state government officials, and healthcare providers are worried. The Health Finance Commission (HFC) has met several times within the past six months to discuss the reforms that our state so desperately needs. The economy of Indiana is at stake, and subsequently it is necessary to examine the rising costs of Indiana healthcare, the rising number of uninsured, the causes for these premium hikes, and what can be done about them.
In a September meeting led by Sen. Patricia Miller, the Indiana Comprehensive Health Insurance Association (ICHIA) met to discuss the problems and causes of rising numbers of uninsured in Indiana. Theresa Jolivette of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce stated that Indiana employers have been experiencing as much as a double-digit increase in health insurance premiums during the past three years (Health Finance Commission). Ms. Jolivette speculated that this marked increase in insurance coverage costs has been the biggest factor contributing to the number of Indiana residents who are living without health insurance. Also, Jason Shelley of the National Federation of Independent Businesses cites increasing healthcare costs as the “number one problem for small businesses,” (Healthcare Finance Commission). This issue is greatly affecting the Indiana small business community, as many are opting to decline coverage for their employees; the businesses themselves cannot afford to offer insurance at low-cost to their employees, but a higher copayments and deductibles cannot be afforded by those who work in these enterprises. Because of the risks involved when living without health insurance, “the expense of health care insurance premiums is making it difficult for employers to maintain existing jobs and to recruit new employers that may be considering locating in the state,” (Health Finance Commission).
A dissertation by William S. Custer, Ph.D., in association with the Health Insurance Association of America, states that if the economy’s inflation rates continue to rise, by 2007 an estimated 60 million Americans will be without health insurance. That means that 30% of all Americans will be without coverage! (United States). Calculating by the inflation rate, Indiana’s estimated 6 million-person population, and the population of the United States, by the year 2007, 180 thousand Indiana citizens will be without health insurance (Rainey).
Indiana lawmakers, petitioners, and the ICHIA have made several proposals for state health insurance reforms. One projected plan of action by Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s Theresa Jolivette is tri-fold. First, the state government could “refrain” from passing bills that increase insurance premium costs. Also, lawmakers should have more available options to vote on healthcare plans, such as minimum coverage plans and unique plan designs, each catering to individuals' needs. “Increase the availability of health care outcomes data information on provider quality to allow purchasers to make informed health care decisions and to hold down cost,” (Health Finance Commission). The latter facet of Ms. Jolivette’s proposal seems to support a tired “knowledge is power” cliché. However, if Indiana citizens are able to make informed decisions about their healthcare, then they will know what coverage plans and options that will best fit their lifestyles and needs. Small business owners have suggested that a “simple, high deductible, no-co-payment policy” would assist consumers with making informed and responsible decisions regarding the healthcare market.
The Indiana Comprehensive Health Insurance Association has attributed the state’s high insurance premiums to heavy regulations placed on the healthcare market. Many businesses utilize third party coverage plans; this middleman often does not allow consumers to be adequately informed about their options regarding their health care. The state of Indiana has programs such as Medicare; Medicaid; and Hoosier Healthwise, which is a health insurance aid available for Indiana children, pregnant women, and low-income families (Hoosier Healthwise). The Indiana Insurance for Indiana Families committee has recently published a chart that shows several available Indiana Health Care programs. According to tabulations of the March 1997 supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, many are able to apply for this aid, but only 11% utilize Medicare, and 13% utilize Medicaid (Custer). Health care is provided at little or no cost to Indiana families enrolled in the program.
Indiana, as stated above, is showing marked hikes in healthcare costs, as well as the under- and uninsured. The solution to this growing problem is not readily apparent, but lawmakers are finally realizing the need for a change. In conclusion, I believe that Indiana, while having an immediate need for healthcare reform, has lawmakers like Sen. Patricia Miller that express a genuine interest and concern for the future of Indiana; subsequently, I believe that in the future, Indiana will make strides to correct the flaws in our healthcare market to make “The Crossroads of America” a better place to live.
"FSSA-Hoosier Healthwise." 14 Oct 2003. State of Indiana. 05 Feb 2004. .
"Health Finance Commission." 2003. State of Indiana. 09 Jan 2004.
Custer, William S. "Health Insurance Coverage and the Uninsured." Health
Insurance Association of America. 05 Feb 2004
"Health Insurance for Indiana Families Committee." 17 Nov 2003. State of
Indiana. 05 Feb 2004.
Rainey, Joan P. "Indiana Population Estimates." 5 Feb 2000. Indiana
University. 05 Feb 2004. .
"United States." 18 Dec 2003. Central Intelligence Agency. 05 Feb 2004.