There probably isn’t a term more maligned in this state than “government-run healthcare.” And yet, we should look around because a whole generation — for better or worse — is relying on it.
I say this based on a new report released last week that detailed how more and more employers have dropped health coverage, especially dependent coverage in the past decade.
Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 300,000 children in Texas lost employer-based health coverage, according to the report by the Economic Policy Institute. This loss in health coverage has coincided with growth in Medicaid and CHIP. More working parents have no choice but to turn to these programs to pay for medical care.
It may be startling to find out that the trend lines are about to intersect. At the end of 2010, 3.16 million Texas children were covered by employer-based insurance and 3.01 million were covered under children’s Medicaid and CHIP. That’s right: the number of children covered by Medicaid/CHIP in Texas is nearly equal to those covered by employer-based insurance.
Only 45% of children in Texas were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance in 2010 compared to 68% in Utah, Massachusetts or New Jersey, or 69% in Wisconsin. Those are states that can say they have employer-sponsored health insurance systems for most kids.
Maybe it’s time stop thinking about how we can cut services and keep families off Medicaid and instead think about how we can improve the government-based system of care that 3 million kids depend upon. Maybe we could be advocates for these families stuck in a system that’s kind of a mess because we don’t make it a priority. It’s an also-ran on the list of lawmakers’ priorities.
The thing is this. Why do employers provide health insurance? To compete for talent. That’s it. That’s the main reason. In Texas, if so many other employers aren’t offering health insurance, why bother? The employers that tend not to provide health insurance tend to have low wage workers, and it’s unlikely they’re going to start offering it when their competitors don’t. It’s the state we’re in.
Until things change in 2014.
Then, the employer mandate kicks in, and maybe Texas’ government-run healthcare system for kids will shrink as more gain coverage from employers.
Click here for a simple clear chart about how to cut Medicaid spending.
In short: “If we cut 1 million elderly from the Medicaid rolls, we reduce Medicaid spending by about 5%. If we cut 1 million adults, however, we reduce Medicaid spending by only 1%. We need to cut 5 times as many adults. If we want to cut Medicaid spending by 10% (which is far less than some propose), we’d need to drop more than 10 million adults from Medicaid. That’s almost three-quarters of all of them. If we want to cut overall Medicaid spending by 20%, then we’d need to drop all non-elderly adults, including all pregnant women, as well as about 10 million kids, or more than a third of them.