Why Health-Care Reform Means More for the Middle Class

March 17 2010, 11:24 AM
In Washington this week, the Democrats' fight for health care has become so dire that President Barack Obama has agreed to a rare interview on Fox News, the cable network known for its appeal (some might say "pandering") to conservatives. The interview with Bret Baier will be broadcast later today, notes The New York Times, which cites a poll suggesting that the health-care overhaul remains unpopular with nearly half the American public and little more than one-third of those surveyed called it a "good idea." If getting health-care reform right (or leaving the system alone) is critical to any group, it's the middle class. That's because wealthy Americans can afford their own coverage and the poor qualify for government programs like Medicaid, according to a report by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (via the Colorado Springs Gazette). The number of uninsured middle-class Americans grew by 2.4 percent from 2000-08 and by 4.8 percent over the same period in Colorado. The data is expected to grow worse for 2009, as fewer people receive insurance through their employers and many middle-class people who lose coverage don’t qualify for government insurance programs. Employees also are picking up a bigger chunk of the premiums. "For middle-class families, changes in the cost of insurance far outweigh changes in income," says foundation president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "That means a bigger piece of the household budget must go to insurance, or families have to go without coverage, delay needed care, and face bankruptcy if anyone in the family gets seriously ill."