|Copyright:||(c) 2011 American Public Health Association|
Overall number continues to increase
THE RATE OF AMERICANS without health insurance held steady in 2010, according to new data from the
All told, about 16.3 percent of Americans did not have health insurance in 2010, which translates to 13 million more people without health insurance in 2010 than 2000, said
In addition, the nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 climbed to 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, according to the
While the uninsurance rate increased slightly, the change was not statistically significant,
“The jump (in uninsurance) was not as big as we thought we might see,” Stoll told The Nation’s Health. “One of the reasons for that is because
The census found a decrease in the percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance, from 56.1 percent to 55.3 percent, a decline of about 1.5 million people. At the same time, a higher percentage of people were covered by government insurance such as
Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of people covered by private health insurance dropped from 64.5 percent to 64 percent.
APHA Interim Executive Director
Though the increase in the uninsurance rate was not statistically significant, it is important to look at the real numbers, said
“We have 50 million Americans who are uninsured,” Hyman said. “And the evidence is very clear that if you’re uninsured you’re going to live sicker and you’re going to die younger. Not only are there consequences to the individual, there’s a consequence to families, there’s a consequence to entire communities.”
Economists and other analysts are trying to figure out why there was such a small change in the uninsurance rate between 2009 and 2010, as generally insurance coverage rates and uninsurance track with the economy, Hyman said. Even more interesting is the fact that while there was not a significant increase in uninsurance, there was a statistically significant increase in people living in poverty, Hyman said, and those two factors usually go together.
It is possible that the people who have lost their jobs did not have health insurance to begin with, Hyman said, or that businesses are cutting wages so they do not have to cut health care. A third theory is what Hyman called “perhaps the one good story in the census numbers.”
According to the
Respite from the continually high uninsurance figures from year to year could come in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act will require people to carry insurance and will create affordable options for those not covered by an employer to buy insurance, Stoll said.
“The Affordable Care Act will do a lot to help bend the curve in the cost of care,” she said, as it will slow the rate at which the cost of health care is increasing.
Studies have shown that if the curve is reduced 1 percent per year for 10 years, that will save
According to Collins, of the people without health insurance in 2009, the Affordable Care Act will make 24 million more people eligible for
Hyman said his organization has also seen some slow changes in another area where the census figures showed problems: the insurance rate for children in poverty. Children living in poverty in 2010 had a 15.4 percent uninsurance rate, while all children had an uninsurance rate of 9.8 percent. That translates to 7 million children who are among the uninsured, about 4.3 million of whom are eligible for coverage through
According to a
“Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in
People line up before dawn for free health services at a mass clinic held in