WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- For some Americans,
health care reform may be arriving none too soon: The number of
U.S. adults not covered by health insurance jumped by 2.9 million
people from 2008 to 2009.
In 2009 -- the year in which the latest statistics are available
-- 46.3 million American adults had no health insurance, according
to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
This means one in five working-age adults is uninsured, and the
situation is still worse in some states: nearly one in four Texans,
for example, lack any form of health coverage.
As a result, millions of Americans face an uphill battle getting
the health care they need, according to the CDC.
In the United States, health insurance means access to health
care, said Robin A. Cohen, a statistician with the CDC's National
Center for Health Statistics. "Although one can still obtain health
care without coverage, a lack of coverage can be a barrier to
obtaining needed health care," she said.
Studies have shown that people without health insurance are less
likely to get preventive care and often delay care until a
condition becomes serious, Cohen added.
The percentage of uninsured adults of working age climbed from
19.7 percent to 21.1 percent in 2009, and a whopping 58.5 percent
of American adults went without insurance for at least part of the
The jump in uninsured Americans appears to be caused by the
current recession and a drop in the number of employers offering
health coverage. "There was a corresponding decrease in private
coverage among adults, from 68.1 percent in 2008 to 65.8 percent in
2009," Cohen said. "You can connect the dots."
On a positive note, more children are covered than before, Cohen
said, although millions are still going without insurance. "In
2009, 6.1 million children lacked health coverage, compared to 9.9
million children in 1997," she said. "The decline in the percent of
uninsured children is attributable to the increase in the percent
of children covered by public plans."
Cohen noted that the number of uninsured adults varied from
state to state. For example, in Massachusetts 3.7 percent of adults
were uninsured, while 24.6 percent of adults lacked health
insurance in Texas.
In addition, since 2007 there has been a significant increase in
the number of people with private health insurance who have high
deductibles, Cohen said. That number has gone from 17.5 percent of
privately insured adults in 2007 to 22.4 percent in 2009.
For people who buy their own health insurance, the number of
those with high deductibles has risen from 39 percent in 2007 to
almost 47 percent in 2009, Cohen said.
Sara Collins, vice president of the Program on Affordable Health
Insurance at the Commonwealth Fund, said the low rate of uninsured
in Massachusetts portends what health care reform will bring about
for the entire country.
"The universal coverage law [in Massachusetts] is so similar to the new national health care reform law it really points to what the new reform law is likely to achieve across all states when it is fully implemented," she said.
The federal law will be go fully into effect in 2014.
"Going forward, you are not going to see the big drop-offs in coverage as you see in this recession," Collins said.
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