Here's to good health, especially for those among us without medical insurance.
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler made headlines this month for a report suggesting that Washington has reached what he described as the "grim milestone" of 1 million people with no health insurance.
In Snohomish County, more than 97,100 people are believed to be in that predicament. For perspective, that's nearly as many people as call the city of Everett home.
And, as Kreidler's report notes, that's about 21,000 more uninsured people living in the community than was the case in 2008.
The 27 percent increase in the number of uninsured people here compares to an overall population jump of about 2 percent during the same period, data suggest. The uninsured surge here appears to have been the fastest among the state's largest counties.
Blame high unemployment, feeble income growth and burgeoning health care costs, the report said.
The economic fallout from providing health care to people without insurance plays a role in driving up costs for everybody.
The health care industry in Washington now absorbs an estimated $1 billion a year in costs for charity cases and bad debt, Kreidler found. Those costs -- estimated at about $101 million a year in Snohomish County alone -- get passed along.
"As a result, the average family with insurance pays $1,017 more per year in premiums due to cost-shifting by health care providers trying to recoup the costs of caring for people without coverage," the report said.
Calculated another way, those passed-along costs work out to about $368 a year for each person with insurance.
Who are the uninsured? Nearly half are people aged 18 to 34. The report offers details of how demographic factors such as race, career and part-time employment are related to insurance.
Kreidler also looks ahead to 2014, when federal health care reform is expected to extend insurance options to more than 800,000 people in this state who currently live without.
"For many families struggling to get or keep health coverage, 2014 can't come soon enough," Kreidler said in a press release.
"As things stand now, we have hundreds of thousands of people living one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy."
Uninsured state residents by county
|County||Population 2010||Uninsured 2010||Percent uninsured|
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