Utah: Less Insured, Less Healthy
Kirsten Stewart penned a report about Utah's recent Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54289756-78/health-percent-state-utah....). Excerpts:
Utah has devised a more accurate way to gauge the health of its residents, and the new numbers aren’t flattering.
More Utahns are uninsured than previously thought — 368,200 adults in 2010, a 49 percent jump from the prior estimate of 247,100. And more of us smoke: 11.2 percent of adults, instead of 8.8 percent.
The changes are a reflection of how the state collects data. Pollsters are now calling cellphones instead of just land lines to reach a wider range of residents. In 2004, only about 5 percent of households had ditched their land lines in favor of cellphones, said Friedrichs. Now about a third are cellphone-only, he said.
And the state is weighting responses with greater precision, aided by new U.S. census data known as the American Community Survey. In the past, the state was able to adjust its findings only for age, sex and county of residence.
The new data now allow officials to adjust for race, marital status, education, whether a person rents or owns a home and what type of phone they use — land line, cellphone or both.
Consumer advocates have long complained of state estimates underplaying the uninsured rate. The state’s new number — 21.5 percent uninsured — is even higher than the official U.S. census estimate of 19.9 percent, notes Lincoln Nehring, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children.
A new rate for children is not yet available. But Nehring said he expects it to jump by at least 7 percent, maybe by as much as 12 percent.
The BRFSS is a household health survey overseen by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by individual state health departments.
Here are some of the comments made at the Salt Lake Tribune website version of the article:
I am going to go out on a limb here and say ..
It might be because, Insurance is NOT affordable to the average person!
I myself pay $530 a month for my husband and myself, .
This Insurance started out reasonable years ago and has gone down hill with dwindling coverage and skyrocketing premiums and high deductible and high out of pocket expenses.
Most families are struggling to pay the mortgage and put food on the table...
So SOMETHING has to give...
How about those who do have health insurance with a high deductible as an employee benefit, but cannot afford to go the doctor due to a high deductible and crappy wages.
What Obama gave us is not universal health care, despite what the dems want us to think. The legislation is full of exceptions and exemptions. I personally support universal healthcare and have seen it work well in other countries. What this law gives us in no way resembles a good healthcare system. They should scrap obamacare and start over - this time with a plan that both sides will accept. Don't blame republicans for not liking this law. Democrats should disdain it as well.
I was the State Health Officer in Nevada when the BRFSS was first implemented there just over 20 years ago. It is a remarkable tool used by every state (with the technical and financial support of the federal Centers for Disease Control) to track important trends in population health. It is well designed and now is adjusting to the reality of telephone usage in the US: fewer land lines and more cell phones. Since people who forgo land lines and exclusively use cell phones are a different population (younger, for instance) than those who continue to have land lines, naturally their health behaviors are also different. It is optimal to adjust the BRFSS so that it captures a truer picture of the total population.
Unfortunately, this adjustment has found that 50% more Utahns are uninsured. ONE IN FIVE adult Utahns not old enough for Medicare does not have health insurance. This is a clear indictment of the way health care business is done in our country. To continue to state that we should begin with what is already working (meaning work related health benefits) is to ignore reality. Unfortunately, Obama-Care begins with exactly that premise. And one of the comments above is correct, even those with health insurance are likely to have a high deductible plan which does not make health care affordable. Obama-Care forces more people to buy these useless plans which have actuarial values of about 60% or less.
Real health system reform requires junking the American health insurance business model. It is a failure. No one, beginning from scratch, would start with a business model which takes 25% or more of the health care dollar and wastes it on overhead. No one would use the remaining 75% on inappropriate care while ignoring a world leading patient injury rate. We can do better.
Check out the 'Solutions' offered on the Utah Healthcare Initiative website. Come and join us in preparing a ballot initiative to reform Utah's health care system.
Dr. Joe Jarvis