U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee on the technical problems that have plagued the healthcare.gov open enrollment website since it went online on Oct. 1.
While addressing these problems is important, the intense focus on the flawed website distracts from the more significant problems in Texas: the staggering number of uninsured and the costs of their health care that are borne by hospitals, taxpayers and the privately insured.
- 5.7 million Texans lack health insurance.
- Texas hospitals are providing $5.5 Billion in uncompensated care each year.
- Premium costs for private insurance in Texas are $1,800 higher, on average, due to uncompensated care for the uninsured.
- Local government expenditures, financed by tax dollars, for indigent health care services currently exceed $1 Billion.
Focus also needs to be on the consequences of the state’s failure to expand Medicaid coverage. By rejecting the Medicaid expansion opportunity and federal funds, the state will leave 1,046,030 Texans – 27 percent of the adult uninsured population — without access to affordable health insurance. Many of these individuals are working poor whose employers do not offer health insurance benefits or for whom the cost of coverage is prohibitive. The consequence will be hospitals, taxpayers and the privately insured continuing to shoulder a heavy share of the costs of care.
“The federal Marketplace cannot work as intended if consumers are unable to sign up for coverage easily and efficiently. The federal government must get the enrollment site working. However, all the attention on the website is distracting from the most important issues at hand: the status quo is not sustainable for the uninsured or for hospitals and, without Medicaid expansion, the rate of uninsured in Texas will remain stubbornly high and hospitals will bear the costs,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/ chief executive officer.
About the Texas Hospital Association Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents more than 85 percent of the state’s acute-care hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 369,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at http://www.tha.org/ or follow THA on Twitter @texashospitals.