I have some really, really bad news for American families: you are getting poorer, too few of you have health insurance and you may have to retire later in life. Nice way to cheer up your day, huh?
For some reason the government decided to dump all this bad news on a Friday right before the Republican National Convention. Maybe they hoped the bad news would be drowned out by the Olympics and the convention? Just a thought.
Anyway, here’s an explanation of the bad news. The number of uninsured has risen to a record 45 million people, reports The New York Times on recently released Census Bureau information. That’s an increase of 1.4 million people from 2002 to 2003.
And who do you think was most likely to lose insurance? Young people aged 25-34, those most likely to have children or about to have children. Higher costs are one of the top reasons 576,000 young adults lost or dropped their insurance benefits.
And health insurance costs are expected to surge by as much as 13 percent in 2005, a consulting firm told the Times. Corporations that actually offer insurance plan to shift the cost burden onto their employees. Those who are unemployed remain screwed.
Although the number of uninsured children declined slightly, an estimated 8.4 million lack any health insurance. What a pathetic figure for the world’s most wealthy nation.
One of the reasons insurance coverage is dropping has to do with Americans’ increasing inability to pay the higher premiums. In fact, the ranks of the poor rose to 12.5 percent of the population in 2003, reports another New York Times story.
And let’s get real; the poverty rate is set at $18,660 for a family of FOUR in this nation. In cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, I suspect the poverty rate should be set at about $35,000.
The nation’s median household income, by the way, has fallen by $1,600 from 1999 to 2003, the Census reports. That means on average American families make only $43,318 a year. So with insurance rates rising while wealth declines, it is no wonder Americans are dropping their insurance.
If you figured you would just hang on until your retire, think again. Our pal at the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, is yet again pushing to trim Social Security and Medicare benefits, reports The Associated Press via The Washington Post. Or at least push retirement age back a few more years. For us younger parents, it already has been pushed back to 67 from 65. But I’ve always suspected the government won’t let me retire until I’m 75, which is just about an American male’s life expectancy.
Oh, one last note of cheer. The economy hasn’t been doing as well as previously stated, reports Reuters. The gross domestic product grew by only a 2.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter as opposed to the originally projected 3.0 pace.
Although some Americans may be doing well, as a whole this nation continues to become more economically hostile to young families. Combined with lousy public schools and exceedingly expensive college costs, it’s going to become increasingly difficult for lower and middle class families to stay afloat, much less pull themselves up in our society. Maybe one of our political parties will take notice? Nah.