Monday, September 21, 2009

Census is a Grim Reminder of the Need for Health Care Reform

According to the Census Bureau, the number of Americans living in poverty increased by nearly 2.6 million in 2008, to a total of 39.8 million, which is the highest number of people living in poverty since 1960. With more individuals in poverty, less are able to pay the expensive cost of health insurance and the number of people without health insurance grew to 46.3 million.
  • From 2000 to 2008, the proportion without insurance rose from 13.7 to 15.4 percent.
  • The numbers of uninsured working age adults (18-64 years old) increased from 19.6 percent to 20.3 percent between 2007 and 2008, an increase of more than 1.5 million people.
One glimmer or good news in the data is that the total number of uninsured children dropped from 11 percent to 9.9 percent. This is because many children are now eligible for public insurance programs such as CHIP and Medicaid. Even though evidence shows that these programs are working by providing insurance for those who were previously uninsured they may be cut, in particular in Pennsylvania, due to a budgetary crisis.

As bad as many of the numbers listed above are, it is likely that even more people are living in poverty today than when the census was taken. More people living in poverty means that there are even more people going without insurance. Health reform is crucial to bring down costs and provide affordable options for individuals who simply cannot afford coverage.

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