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StarBulletin.com

Isle health coverage seen slipping


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An estimated 15,160 Hawaii residents will lose health coverage between January 2008 and December 2010, according to Families USA.

The total number of Americans without health coverage is expected to climb by an estimated 6.9 million in that period, says the national organization of health care consumers.

The figures are cited in a report titled “;The Clock Is Ticking: More Americans Losing Health Coverage.”; January 2008 is used as a benchmark because it follows the last U.S. Census Bureau report on the uninsured.

Hawaii will see an average of 100 people lose their insurance per week over the three-year period, the report said.

Families USA says the rising cost of health care premiums, which went up 119 percent from 1999 to 2008, is the major cause of the loss of health coverage.

In comparison, it said, the consumer price index, which tracks general price increases, rose by only 29.2 percent in the same period.

“;Clearly, health care costs are out of control, and these costs are making health coverage increasingly unaffordable,”; Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director, said in a news release. “;This report spotlights the number of people who are losing coverage in the absence of health-care reform.”;

He said employers who offer health coverage are being forced to pass on rising costs to employees by requiring higher premiums or co-payments or by offering plans covering fewer benefits.

Nearly all Hawaii employers are required under the state's 1974 prepaid health-care act to provide coverage for employees who work 20 hours or more a week for four consecutive weeks.