The number of uninsured Missourians ranges in the 600-thousand to 750-thousand range, depending on the source. Some state lawmakers have been briefed on the situation as they look for affordable ways to provide coverage.
The Missouri Hospital Association says the more uninsured Missourians there are, the more there will be. It works like this. The growing number of uninsured Missourians still seeks healthcare. The doctors and hospitals charge more to treat insured people to make up for the costs of treating the uninsured. Those charges lead to higher insurance rates. higher insurance rates cause some employers to stop offering coverage to workers. Association figures show a growth of about 200,000 uninsured Missourians since 2002, and says the percentage of businesses offering health insurance to their workers has dropped from 69 in 2000 to sixty in 2007.
But a spokesman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City says a lot of people are just opting out, noting twenty percent of uninsured people can afford to buy insurance but won’t and 25 percent of all non-elderly uninsured individuals are eligible for coverage under a government program but have not enrolled and three-fourths of uninsured children are eligible for government insurance but are not in any program either. Blue Cross-Blue Shield calculates a family of four with employer insurance has to pay almost 18-hundred dollars a year for healthcare because the costs of treating the uninsured are shifted to insurance companies. .
The state senate is hearing from people like Landon and Bledsoe as it looks for ways to insure more of Missouri’s uninsured. The meetings are part of a series of seminars the Senate is holding for its members on important issues they’ll face during this legislative session.