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18 December 2008

Affordable Health Insurance Is An Economic Imperative

Dusty Nix, writing for the Macon Telegraph editorial board this morning, launched a discussion on health care in Georgia focusing on a new report from Georgia State University's Health Policy Center and the Center for Health Services Research that says 18% of the state's residents --including 20% of the population under 65-- are uninsured.

According to Nix, there are 1.66 million uninsured Georgians and that number could increase as jobs with employer-based health insurance are eliminated due to the souring economy.

Over the past eight years, the share of Georgians with private employer-based health insurance has steadily declined, while the percentage with public insurance like Medicaid or PeachCare has increased. Right now, of people with private health insurance in Georgia, more than 90 percent have employer-based coverage. As the recession — which is expected to be especially deep in Georgia — continues, unemployment could hit 9 percent or higher, meaning more people will lose jobs and, very likely, job-based health insurance as well. [Source: Macon Telegraph, "Georgia’s health-care prognosis is looking grim", December 18, 2008]

Nix declares that "Figuring out a way to make affordable health insurance available to working Georgians [...] is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one."

Alright, let's try and figure this out.

Some say that "socialized medicine" is the answer.

I disagree.

Others say health savings accounts are the way to go.

The jury is still out on that proposal.

How do we make health care more affordable and more readily available to more Georgians? And more importantly, how do we pay for it? These two questions always seems to be the point of contention for those who agree that health insurance must be made more affordable.

This is a tough issue to handle and there are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers. But Dusty Nix is right. Affordable health insurance is an economic imperative.