Thursday, September 24, 2009

Census Data: 1 in 10 Pennsylvanians Lacked Health Insurance in 2008

2009 marks the first time the Census has tracked and released local and regional data on health insurance coverage as part of its American Community Survey. According to the data, 1.15 million Pennsylvanians, or 9.4 percent of the population, lacked health insurance in 2008.

Reading and Allentown had the highest percentage of people without insurance (17.1 percent and 17.5 percent respectively), while Philadelphia has the most individuals without insurance, 200,243. In other words, one out of every six people in Pennsylvania without insurance is from Philadelphia.

However, the data shows that the uninsured are not only found in Philadelphia. Several rural communities, especially Crawford, Lawrence, and Lancaster, also saw high rates of uninsured.

Pennsylvania’s overall percentage of uninsured is below the national rate of 15.1 percent, which is largely due to Pennsylvania’s success with CHIP and the large population of senior citizens receiving Medicare. Pennsylvania also has a high rate of employer-provided health insurance; however, that number has been in decline over the last decade.

With recent state budgetary problems, funding for programs like CHIP and adultBasic are on the chopping block. As waiting lists for those programs become longer, the numbers of individuals without health insurance will only grow, unless something changes. With nearly 1 in 10 Pennsylvanians already lacking health insurance, health care reform is essential to ensure that residents can get the care they need and deserve.

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