Wyoming Liberty Group
Health Reform: Why One-Size-Fits-All Does Not Fit Wyoming
On Saturday November 7, 2009, the House of Representatives of U.S. Congress passed a comprehensive bill aimed at fundamentally reforming the national health care system. If the bill passes the Senate it will affect health insurance and health care delivery in every state. But the notion that a one-size-fits-all solution out of Washington, DC is good for every state is false. Not all states have the same problems with uninsured citizens or lack of employer-based insurance coverage.
Wyoming is a good example. Census Bureau data shows that the health insurance coverage situation in Wyoming is clearly different from the national average.
The most significant difference is in the rate of uninsured residents. National health reform is often motivated by the fact that many Americans lack health insurance. Nationally the percentage of uninsured Americans younger than 65 years old has increased over the past ten years, from 15.8 percent in 1999 to 17.3 percent in 2008. During the same period of time the percentage of uninsured fell in Wyoming, though marginally, from 16 percent to 15.6 percent.
Though many Wyoming residents lack health insurance, the situation is not getting worse as it is nationally.
Another motivator for national health reform is the drop in employer-based insurance coverage. Of all Americans aged 64 or younger 68 percent had employer-based insurance in 1999. In 2008 it was only 62 percent. In Wyoming the drop was much more marginal, from 67 percent to 65 percent. In actual numbers, the population aged 0-64 with employer-based insurance declined nationwide, from 163 million in 1999 to 161 million in 2008.
In Wyoming the number grew by 11,000 people. This is slower than the population growth (hence the percentage decline) but nevertheless a different trend than nationwide.
With the percentage of uninsured modestly declining and with an increase in the number of Wyoming residents covered by employer insurance plans, Wyoming needs a different kind of health reform than the rest of the country.