Cover Michigan 2010

June 21, 2010

Today, we are releasing our 2010 report on health care coverage in Michigan. This report includes comprehensive data on the uninsured, publicly, privately insured and the safety net. In addition, we have included a final chapter on what could be the impact of health reform on coverage in Michigan. The 2010 report principally includes data from 2007/8, the most recently available comprehensive data on health care coverage in the U.S. and Michigan.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the picture of health care coverage in our state in 2007/8 looks considerably worse than it did in 2005/6. The degree of change in a negative direction is greater than we expected and most concerning. For example:

• While still better than the national average, Michigan’s uninsured increased significantly between 2005/6 and 2007/8. Michigan now ranks 16th lowest in the country in terms of the percent of the State’s population who are uninsured compared to 10th lowest in 2005/6 – that’s a concerning change in ranking in just one year.

• Medicaid expenditures continued to grow representing 22.2 percent of the total state budget in 2008, a considerable increase from the 18.9 percent it represented in 1999. Michigan ranked 16th highest in terms of state expenditures for Medicaid – a big change from 2007 when Michigan ranked 27th highest.

• The rise in the uninsured and publicly insured has been a direct result of the continued decline in private coverage in the state, going from 77.5 percent of the state’s population in 2003/4 to 74 percent in 2007/8. And for those with coverage, there has been a significant increase over the past several years in the share of premiums individuals are paying.

The report also notes the strain on the safety net these changes are taking – with more than $2 billion in uncompensated care now being provided by hospitals and safety net providers being challenged to care for all those in need.

We do project a very positive impact on these trends due to health reform. Indeed, if everyone who becomes eligible for Medicaid enrolls and everyone who is mandated to have private coverage, purchases that coverage, the number of uninsured in the state could go from more than 1 million in 2007/8 to less than 150,000 in 2014, mostly undocumented immigrants. And many will likely benefit from the subsidies and tax credits included in health reform. But, the most significant health reform changes won’t take effect until 2014 – 4 years from now. And, when we look at these data again for what has happened in 2009/2010, the trends are likely to be worse.

But given that the most significant changes from health reform won’t take effect until 2014 (and 2009/10 is likely to look worse than 2007/8), should we all just hunker down until then? Well, no. There are two charts in the report that I think are very significant and give us both hope and a challenge. If you look at nothing else in the report, take a look at the charts on pages 47 and 115 (ok, not a test to see if you read it!). On page 47, we noted that the state peaked in terms of enrollment in Medicaid in 2005 – a time when Michigan had a very robust outreach effort designed to get kids enrolled. At that time we had more than 55,000 kids enrolled in MiChild. The number has now dropped to less than 44,000 – not because the need or eligibility have changed but because there is no longer the outreach program as a result of state budget challenges.

Similarly, our data on page 115 show that almost 16 percent of those who are currently uninsured – more than 165,000 people are Medicaid eligible today under the current eligibility rules. So, these are our opportunities and our challenge: we can get many more people enrolled in coverage if we want right now – we don’t have to wait until 2014.

And, lest we get too overwhelmed with the negative, there is one piece of really good news in the report: again this year, Michigan health insurance premiums are less than the US average. In 2008, Michigan family premiums averaged $11,300, $1,000 per person less than the U.S. average of $12,300. Now, that is something to build on!