We have been talking about it for at least the last two years but it is a story that never seems to disappear. The weak job market and lagging behind it is our weak economy. The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high and, even though it may not be as publicly reported anymore, companies still continue to slash jobs from their employment numbers. All of these are facts, but what about the effect all of this has on our health?
This doesn’t necessarily just mean the added stress and strain placed on the body from job loss, job searches, taking a second job or increasing the amount of hours worked to make up for decreased compensation. These are all factors that certainly degrade the body’s health, but what about the degradation of health due to lack of health insurance and routine check-ups that are absolutely essential to our health? This, on top of the stress we already face in today’s market, could be taking a very large toll on our bodies.
It’s not very difficult to understand or see the pattern that is taking place today. The majority of Americans that have health insurance receive it under a plan provided by their employer. If they lose their job due to downsizing or any other reasons, then they are no longer covered by their employer’s health insurance plan. That forces them to either wait until they find another job and another plan, which could take months and even a year, or find their own health insurance independently. This is sometimes not even an option since gaining health insurance independently can be very expensive and if you are out of work, how are you to pay for this added expense?
This isn’t just speculation, the statistics are there to back it up. Last year, the percentage of people with health benefits through their employer was at 44.6 percent. That was down from the previous year in 2011 where 45.8 percent of people had workplace benefits. This decline isn’t new. In fact, this number has been steadily declining since 2008, showing a direct relation to the weak job market. More specifically, the decline in the numbers is likely due to employers either not offering health insurance to their employees anymore because they can’t afford it or employees opting out of the coverage because they themselves can’t afford it.
As a whole, the total number of uninsured Americans last month rose to 17.1 percent, up from 16.8 percent in 2010. Without a positive shift in the job market and economy, these numbers are likely to rise. Without adequate health care and upkeep of our bodies, the need for more healthcare may rise and the overall health of our country may decline.