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Monday, November 15, 2010

More MIddle Income, Ailing Workers Are Uninsured

Recent results of the National Health Interview Survey reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) help to debunk major health care myths about health care coverage. These myths hold that only the poor, and young, healthy people are uninsured and that the young, healthy folks choose to not have health insurance.

Hear this: “Uninsurance of young and middle-class adults increased by 4 million people from 2008 to the first quarter of 2010,” reported Thomas Frieden, the CDC director, on November 10 in the CDC’s most recent Vital Signs monthly report. The Vital Signs report collected data from more than 90,000 interviews done through the National Health Interview Survey conducted in January through March 2010, just before the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

According to Mr. Frieden, “Half of those who are uninsured are non-poor and there’s a serious impact on access to needed health care. Specifically, among adults age 18 to 64, the proportion who had no insurance for at least part of the prior year increased from 46 million to 49.9 million to be exact, 4 million more from 2008 to the first quarter of 2010.” Mr. Frieden also noted that the number of individuals who have been without health insurance coverage for more than 12 months also increased substantially from 27.5 million in 2008 to 30.4 million in the first quarter of 2010, an increase of 3 million in chronically uninsured adults.

Mr. Frieden noted that “half of the uninsured are over the poverty level, and one in three adults under 65 in the middle income range (defined here between $44,000 and $65,000 a year for a family of four [who] were uninsured at some point in the year).” Furthermore, “about more than two out of five individuals who are uninsured at some point during the past year had one or more chronic diseases and this is based on just a partial list of chronic diseases. So the actual number may be higher than that.” The CDC reported that 15 million uninsured had one of three conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, or asthma. The uninsured with asthma were five times more likely than insured individuals not to get needed care, and the uninsured with diabetes and hypertension were are six times more likely to not get needed care.

Since most people get their health insurance through their own or family members' employers, these results are not surprising given these tough economic times with high unemployment. Will the provisions of the Affordable Care Act help people get the care they need? We shall see.

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