Heath care law needs full implementation
For the first time since 2007, the year before the Great Recession, the number of Americans without health insurance has declined, according to the Bureau of the Census.
The bad news in the census report was that too many Americans continue to go without insurance. According to the report, the number of uninsured Americans fell to 48.6 million in 2011. But the reason that the number fell at all suggests why that number could be reduced substantially over the next few years.
Much of the increase in coverage is due to a single development: passage of the new federal health care law in 2010. Because of a provision that allows people 19 or older to remain under their parents' policies until they are 26, an additional 1.6 million Americans were covered in 2011. The percentage of people between 19 and 25 without coverage dropped from 29.8 percent in 2010 to 27.7 percent in 2011. Overall, the uninsured percentage of the U.S. population dropped from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011.
It remains startling that 48.6 million Americans still do not have insurance, thus leaving the majority of the costs of their inevitable health care to people with insurance and taxpayers.
That's why the health care law should be implemented fully, on schedule. Beginning in 2014, health insurance exchanges will be in place, and Medicaid will expand the mandate to buy insurance.
Implementation of the law will ensure broader access to quality care and diminish the amount of so-called "uncompensated" care that actually is picked up across the system.