The news that Michigan’s unemployment rate passed 15% ushers in the next depressing phase of joblessness in America. As of mid-July 2009, 15 states have unemployment rates of 10% or higher.

In the U.S., unemployment quickly leads to uninsurance. According to The Clock is Ticking: More Americans Losing Health Coverage, 44,230 more people are losing health coverage every week.

This report, published by Families USA in July 2009, provides state-by-state statistics of unemployment. By detailing state-specific insurance losses on a weekly, monthly and annual basis, the report provides a pace-of-change profile of health care as a local phenomenon.

The data are based on a Health Affairs analysis published in May 2009, Hard Times and Health Insurance by Todd Gilmer and Richard Kronick, projecting that 6.9 million more Americans will lose health insurance between 2008 and the close of the 111th Congress in 2010.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: As Congressional and public support for health reform grows ever more contentious and fractured, it’s useful to consider the chart and its implications. Thinking about health care as a local good, the longer current economic patterns persist (downward), the more unemployment, uninsurance and underinsurance will grow. The economic impacts on states (notably Governors’ budgets) and local communities’ finances will exacerbate.

Clearly the ad campaigns heating up on health reform, from Harry and Louise to socialist-scare tactics, are having an impact on Americans’ ever-morphing feelings about health reform. The July 18th 2009 Rasmussen Poll found that cost, not universal coverage, is the top health concern among Americans. Rasmussen found that, given a choice between health care reform and a tax hike or no health care reform and no tax hike, 47% would prefer to avoid the tax hike and “do without reform.”

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