Is it possible to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to affordable healthcare? Can we solve the problem of the uninsured while giving families more control over their healthcare decisions? Can we create a sustainable healthcare system without reducing quality or limiting choice?
The answer to all of these questions is clear: Yes, we can. We can make insurance more affordable by giving consumers more choices. We can help the poor and uninsured by enabling low-income citizens to purchase their own insurance plans. We can even begin to reform healthcare by modernizing Medicaid and enacting malpractice reform. What is just as clear is that the state’s current approach to healthcare is not working.
X At $4,104, the average cost of family insurance policies in North Carolina is in the top third among the states. By contrast, the average cost for a family policy in Iowa is $2,544; in Michigan, the average family policy runs $2,844. In neighboring South Carolina, the average family policy is $3,756.
X Nationally, (employer-sponsored) health insurance premiums increased 65 percent from 2000 to 2004. This rate was much faster than the rate of general inflation (10 percent) or wage growth (12 percent).
X North Carolina’s uninsured rate is 17.9 percent – higher than 38 states. Roughly 240,000 children are among the ranks of the uninsured.
X Since 1995, total Medicaid spending in North Carolina has nearly tripled, with spending skyrocketing by 96 percent since 2000 alone.
X 45 percent of North Carolina’s Medicaid recipients in 2006 belonged to eligibility groups added since 1987.
X The American Medical Association has designated North Carolina as a state in “medical liability crisis” because of the state’s onerous malpractice laws.
It almost seems that the more the state tries to “fix” healthcare, the worse things get. Consider, for instance, that over the past 20 years Medicaid enrollment has tripled. Yet during the same period, the number of North Carolinians without insurance increased by one-third. Likewise, coverage mandates imposed by the state have significantly increased the cost of private insurance – by some estimates, as much as 41 percent. If current trends are any indicator, the push toward a single-payer, government controlled healthcare system will not only cost more, but lead to rationing, lower quality care, and long waiting periods.
Reforming North Carolina’s healthcare system will require a bold new vision dedicated to creating more choices for all North Carolinians. To ensure that hardworking citizens obtain quality healthcare and insurance at a reasonable price, the state needs to pursue policies dedicated to:
1) Expanding affordable healthcare options for children, working families and the poor/uninsured
2) Modernizing and reforming Medicaid
3) Enacting medical malpractice reform
(Return to The Basics)