Increase in Uninsured Affects Both Adults and Children

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According to the latest findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of uninsured in the US continues to rise. Over 59 million went without health insurance coverage for at least part of 2010, health officials report – 400,000 more than the same period last year and almost 3 million more than in 2008.

More than 80% of Uninsured are Adults 18 to 64

Unfortunately, “both adults and kids lost private coverage over the past decade,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, and provisions from the Affordable Care Act is expected to increase coverage for only 32 million of the 59 million uninsured. One-fifth of the US population is uninsured, the highest percentage of people without health care coverage in the developed world.

The CDC used data from the National Health Interview Study (NHIS) for its report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for November 9. The survey is conducted in-person and includes nearly 90,000 individuals from about 35,000 households.

In the first quarter of 2010 (January to March), 59.1million people had no health insurance for at least part of the previous year, representing an increase from the same time period in 2009 which was 58.7 million. In 2008, just over 56 million people were uninsured.

More than 80% of the uninsured were adults aged 18 to 64. Frieden said that nine percent of adults lost private insurance, but public plans such as Medicare or Medicaid only picked up 5 percent of those.

Read: Unintended Consequence of Health Reform - Elimination of Child-Only Policies

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About 8.7 million children under the age of 17 reported having no health insurance coverage for at least part of the past year – 11.7% of the total. Fortunately, children have more options with public insurance plans.

Read: American Workers Paying More for Health Insurance

Also distressing is that more people are going longer without coverage. The report indicates that 30.4 million people had been without health insurance for a period of a year or more, up from 27.5 million in 2008.

The report also debunks the myth that only the poor are uninsured. Half of those without health insurance are over the poverty level and one in three adults under 65 fell into the middle income range - defined as an income between $44,000 and $65,000 a year.

Read: CMS Implements Provisions for Improved Access to Preventive Care

Another prevailing myth is that only healthy people risk going without health insurance. In fact, two out of five uninsured individuals at some point during the past year had one or more of the most common chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma. These individuals are three times more likely to skip or delay care because of cost.

The authors conclude by saying, “Further efforts to increase enrollment and coverage retention for children and to add persons aged 18--64 years who will be newly eligible for Medicaid could help these populations maintain continuous coverage, thereby increasing receipt of preventive services and reducing avoidable complications from illness, long-term health-care costs, and premature deaths.”

Source Reference:
"Vital Signs: Health Insurance Coverage and Health Care Utilization - United States, 2006-2009 and January-March 2010"
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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