Katie Harp has an article in the Princeton Daily Clarion on the subject of the need for affordable healthcare for Hoosiers. Meanwhile, Taking Down Words has a link to a story by Tim Evans in the Indy Star reporting that more Hoosiers are living in poverty. (Update The longer story by Mr. Evans is here.
According to the Clarion article, Hoosiers have the highest rate of “medical bankruptcies” per capita in the nation. How they determine what constitutes a “medical bankruptcy” versus other kinds, I’m not sure since the federal bankruptcy law doesn’t really categorize causation of the bankruptcy, but presumably somebody has sifted through bankruptcy petitions and analyzed what portion of the scheduled debts are related to medical expenses. Something like 9-14% of Hoosiers are uninsured.
According to the article, insurance providers have to subsidize the uninsured and, therefore, $950 of a family’s annual insurance premium is used to pay for uninsured residents. I’m curious about how this subsidy works — is there some kind of mandated uninsured subsidy fund that insurance companies have to kick in to or is there some other kind of mechanism at work? To receive Medicaid, a family of 4 has to have an income of less than $20,000. So, presumably the uninsured we’re talking about are families that make more than $20,000 per year, but not enough to afford medical insurance. This article also cites less than favorable economic conditions. Between 2000 and 2004, Indiana lost 138,000 jobs and food stamps and TANF more than doubled in the last 5 years.
This ties into the Tim Evans report. The number of Hoosiers living below the federal poverty level in 2005 increased to 12.2%, up from 10.8% in 2004 and up from 9.5% in 2000. And even that doesn’t really tell the story. The poverty guidelines are outdated and unrealistic. According to Lisa Travis, advocacy and education coordinator for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, A person needs to earn nearly 200 percent of the poverty level just to make ends meet in Indiana.
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Stop the presses.
I almost forgot to mention Troy “I’ll never vote for it” Woodruff’s solution to the problem of uninsured and underinsured Hoosiers.
Also not helping the situation, Hoosiers have some of the worst health habits in the nation, Labrecque said. Indiana ranks second in the number of smokers and ninth in obesity.
State Rep. Troy Woodruff said these reasons prompted him to ask the FSSA to conduct a public forum in Princeton.
â€œSouthern Indiana has a lot of smokers and a lot of children who take a lot of medicine,â€ he said. â€œWe need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and start thinking about lifestyle changes that can lead to solutions.â€
I’m all for living healthy and unhealthy habits certainly contribute to healthcare costs, but if Woodruff’s approach to the healthcare situation in Indiana relies primarily on telling people that they’re fat, lazy nicotine addicts with hypochondriac children who ought to shape up, then the voters of southern Indiana have yet another reason to throw him out on his ear.