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Posted on September 26, 2007 at 11:39 AM

Those of us in the public health community have been used to citing the statistic that anywhere between 43 and 48 million U.S. residents lack health insurance, but a new study released yesterday by Families USA, puts that number closer to 89.6 million U.S. residents younger than age 65, or about 34.7% of the population, who lacked health insurance at some point during 2006-2007. See the Florida Times-Union (Karkaria, Florida Times-Union, 9/21). The study, which examined Census Bureau data from 2006-2007 and 1999-2000, found that almost two-thirds of residents who lacked health insurance did not have coverage for six months or more and that more than half lacked coverage for nine months or more. In addition, the study found that 79.3% residents who lacked health insurance were from working families, with 70.6% employed full time and 8.7% employed part time (CQ HealthBeat, 9/20). The study also found that non-Hispanic whites accounted for 26% of residents who lacked health insurance, compared with 44.5% of non-Hispanic blacks and 60.7% of Hispanics (Florida Times-Union, 9/21).

Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack said, “The huge number of people without health coverage over the past two years helps to explain why health care has become the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential campaign,” adding, “The expansion of health coverage in America is no longer simply a matter of altruism about other people but a matter of intense self-interest” (CQ HealthBeat, 9/20). In addition, Pollack said that he does not expect action by the federal government to address the issue “as long as the president is in the White House” (Griggs, Baton Rouge Advocate, 9/21).

The study is available online (.pdf).

Broadcast Coverage
American Public Media’s “Marketplace Morning Report” on Thursday reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Pollack (Palmer, “Marketplace Morning Report,” American Public Media, 9/20). Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.

It’s been 13 years since the Clinton health care plan crashed and burned. Now that this issue is really affecting the majority of the population, we may yet have another window of opportunity to reorganize our health care delivery, coverage, and reimbursement system to one that is more just. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I search for a provider who accepts my insurance.

-Andrea Kalfoglou

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