Number Of Uninsured Grows Even As Government Programs Cover More Americans

The Census released figures on the number of uninsured Americans Thursday.

Kaiser Health News reports: "More children had health insurance last year, partially offsetting a growing number of adults who lacked coverage as the troubled economy helped push insurance out of reach for many workers. New Census Bureau numbers show the total number of uninsured rose to 46.3 million in 2008, up from 45.6 million in 2007. The percentage of uninsured remained at 15.4 percent."

"Analysts expect the next Census report, which will be released next year but reflect conditions in 2009, to show an increase in the number of people without insurance, as well as a rise in the number who are living in poverty, reflecting the economy's continued distress and the rise in unemployment. ... If the trends in poverty and uninsurance worsen it will become harder and more expensive to do comprehensive reform, says Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm in Washington" (Appleby, 9/10).

NPR includes a map of the Census data that shows the rate of people without health insurance in each state (9/10).

The New York Times reports: "In the recession, the nation's poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent last year, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Census Bureau. ... The rise in the poverty rate, to the highest level since 1997, portends even larger increases this year, which has registered far higher unemployment than in 2008, economists said. The bureau said 39.8 million residents last year lived below the poverty line, defined as an income of $22,025 for a family of four" (Eckholm, 9/10).

The Washington Post reports: "Median household income -- the amount earned by a family at the exact center of the income scale -- sank 3.6 percent in 2008: from $52,163 to $50,303. In 1998, at the height of the tech stock boom, the comparable income was $51,295. All the figures were adjusted for inflation. ... The income loss is the largest one-year decline on record, said Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, tracing it to the number of people shifting from full-time jobs to part-time work. Although incomes went down for all races, Hispanics experienced some of the biggest losses" (Morello and Keating, 9/11).

Wall Street Journal reports: "More people are getting their health insurance from the government as the number of individuals with coverage from an employer declines. ... That trend feeds into the debate over the idea of Congress creating a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. An additional 4.4 million people in the U.S. were insured by the government as of 2008, for a total of 87.4 million, or 29% of the population, up from 27.8% in 2007. At the same time, 1.1 million fewer people had coverage from an employer in 2008, leaving 176.3 million people with such coverage" (Adamy, 9/11).

The Associated Press reports: "The number of people covered by federal Medicaid, Medicare and military insurance plans was an increase from 83 million in 2007, according to census figures released Thursday. It partially offset the eighth straight year of declines in the percentage of people with employer-provided plans and highlighted the growing role of a government-offered insurance safety net" (Bass and Yen, 9/10).

USA Today reports: "The government intervention was one of several factors holding down the number of uninsured during a recession" (Wolf, 9/10).

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