Solutions for the Uninsured

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was in Houston to discuss his ideas for handling the uninsured. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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2013, that's the year that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says the health care system has to be fixed or it risks collapsing. Thompson says the cost of health care is expected to double between now and 2013.

"And the important driver is going to be the fact that Medicare starts going broke in the year 2013 and Congress is going to have to start reimbursing for those IOUs that they've taken all these years for Medicare."

Thompson is now traveling the country for the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions trying to energize people to address the problem. Thompson is concerned about employers not offering health insurance. He says the number of companies offering insurance has dropped from over 80 percent to 60 percent.

"Companies that have fewer than 50 employees are getting out of offering health insurance because they're fearful of one or more members that they're insuring is going to have a chronic illness or a severe illness and that is going to skew all the other insurance policies so that they are afraid of the high premiums so they back away."

One of Thompson's ideas is to group the uninsured and have companies bid for their business.

"What I would like to do is have every state put the uninsured into an insurable pool and put it out for bids. And then I would like to have the federal government use tax credits to help subsidize it so that individuals that are uninsured would be able to afford health insurance."

34 percent of Harris County residents don't have health insurance.

Pat Carrier serves on the Health Care Advisory Committee at the Greater Houston Partnerhip. One effort has been getting more federally qualified health care clinics in Houston. Carrier says local officials are still working on getting affordable health insurance for the uninsured.

"All the uninsured are not poor , I mean there is a number of people who make $50,000 a year who don't have health insurance, they're working. The thought was what could we provide in the way of an affordable policy that they would buy."

Carrier says local officials are still working on getting the pieces in place to make the program possible. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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Capella Tucker

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Capella Tucker joined KUHF in the spring of 1994 as a part-time reporter. She quickly gained a full-time position when she took over production duties for

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