Any healthcare system requires health care insurance or coverage, which represents an essential aspect of the health care administration. Considering the special role played by the government in the lives of its citizens and inhabitants, it is the one primarily responsible for providing health care coverage to them. Unfortunately, uninsurance remains a big problem in all countries of the world, including developed countries like the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007; Florida Health Insurance Study, 2006).
The value of healthcare coverage began to be apparent in the 1940s, when individuals and health care institutions began to realize that health care insurance is capable of spreading the risk of expensive medical conditions across a large population base (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). Despite the popularity of the utility of healthcare insurance, many citizens failed to get coverage because of the costs involved.
Thus, every year, various studies show statistics illustrate the gravity of the problem of uninsurance, both at the national and state levels (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2005). In 2003, the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) showed that there were 43.6 million Americans who had no healthcare coverage. This large number represents 15.5% of the American population (Brayton Purcell LLP, 2007). Despite the fact that there are various other sources of insurance coverage, such as government subsidy or private employers, a large part of the population remains uninsured.
Experts, policy-makers, and even laypeople would agree that this trend of high uninsurance rates has a negative impact on society, particularly on the health status of Americans. Negative impacts of uninsurance include lack of preventive care, bad health status, and higher mortality rates (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2008). It is important to explore possibilities of reducing the large number of people without insurance, especially with the increasing costs involved in Medicare and Medicaid (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
One aspect of uninsurance that should be the object of concern in Florida is the high rates of uninsurance among children (Families USA, 2003; Thompson, 1998). Children should be given particular attention since they are very vulnerable to the effects of the lack of insurance. Children need vital healthcare services such as immunizations, developmental assessments, and frequent well-child checkups. Lack of insurance causes children to miss out on these vital healthcare services, which could lead to serious health problems (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
Uninsurance rates among children across the country are as high as the rates among adults. For a long time, children in Florida relied on Medicaid as their major source of public healthcare coverage. Despite this, Florida was among the states that had huge populations of uninsured children. The number of uninsured children in Florida reached about half a million in 2004, and majority of this number belong to families living at 100% or less of Federal Poverty Level (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
Fortunately, in 1998, the Florida KidCare Program was enacted by the legislature to help improve the health status of children coming from low- to moderate-income families (Florida KidCare). Luckily, the KidCare Program yielded very positive results. From 1999 to 2004, the rate of uninsured children in Florida decreased by about 2 percentage points. The rate of uninsurance among children dropped from 13.9% to 12.1%. An even greater drop can be seen among children in their most critical stages of life, specifically, the infants and preschoolers, whose rates declined from 11.9% in 1999 to 8.1% in 2004. However, the same positive results cannot be observed among older children, whose levels of uninsurance remained relatively flat (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
Lack of insurance coverage is not the only important issue involving healthcare coverage in Florida. Among the older population in the said state, one relevant issue involves the gaps in health insurance coverage that are common. Gaps refer to years when an individual goes without insurance coverage, which situation is as bad as not having coverage at all. This is because gaps in coverage also result in failure to receive timely preventive healthcare (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
Moreover, those who have gaps in insurance coverage are also more likely to have less access to proper healthcare. Thus, 45.2% of people who have gaps in coverage go by without a source of healthcare, while only 16.0% can be found among those who are continuously insured. Other negative effects of intermittent health insurance coverage is the delay in seeking care that is common among those with gaps in coverage (Duncan, Porter, Garvan & Hall, 2005). This tendency is another reason for worse status of health among the population in Florida (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005).
Finally, another, more pressing concern is the cause of uninsurance in Florida, which is the marked erosion in employer-sponsored healthcare coverage. This is a trend that is observed, not only in Florida, but also across the nation. It is caused by various factors, the primary of which is higher cost involved in providing coverage. It should be noted, though, that the decline in employer-based coverage is offset by the increase in participation in public coverage, such as those provided by Medicare and Children’s Medical Services (Florida Health Insurance Study, 2005; Council on Affordable Health Insurance). Indeed, increased public funding could greatly help the problem of uninsurance in many states.