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Nearly 59 million lack health insurance, CDC says



WASHINGTON — Nearly 59 million Americans went without health insurance coverage for at least part of 2010, many of them with conditions or diseases that needed treatment, federal health officials said on Tuesday.

They said 4 million more Americans went without insurance in the first part of 2010 than during the same time in 2008.

"Both adults and kids lost private coverage over the past decade," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news briefing.

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Even before the healthcare reform act, Congress passed provisions expanding free health coverage for children.

"As private insurance coverage fell, the safety net protected children, but did not adequately protect adults," Frieden said.

Nine percent of adults lost private insurance, and public insurance picked up just 5 percent of them, the CDC said. Frieden said 22 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 are uninsured.

The CDC analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey or NHIS for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 for its report. "It's an in-person household survey interviewing nearly 90,000 individuals from around 35,000 households," Frieden said.

The analysis found that in the first quarter of 2010, an estimated 59.1 million people had no health insurance for at least part of the year, an increase from 58.7 million in 2009 and 56.4 million in 2008.

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More than 80 percent were adults aged 18 to 64. People over 65 are eligible for Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for the elderly.

Frieden said more people also went for a year or more with no health insurance -- from 27.5 million in 2008 to 30.4 million in the first quarter of 2010. "That's an increase of 3 million in chronically uninsured adults," he said.

"Now, the data also allow us to debunk two myths about health care coverage," Frieden added.

Half the uninsured are over the poverty level
"The first myth is that it's only the poor who are uninsured. In fact, half of the uninsured are over the poverty level and one in three adults under 65 in the middle income range — defined arbitrarily here between $44,000 and $65,000 a year for a family of four — were uninsured at some point in the year."

And Frieden said many people argue that only the healthy risk going without health insurance.

"In fact ... 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," he said.

For example, 15 million of the people who went without health insurance had high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma.

People with such conditions often end up in emergency rooms and require treatment, paid for by hospitals or taxpayers, that is far more expensive than getting proper preventive care would have been.

"If you have diabetes and you don't get needed care in the short term you end up in the intensive care unit," Frieden said.

Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

4 Responses
419158 tn?1316575204
sad but true. My family and I are uninsured. We tried aplying to the stare and were told that DH makes to much. We cant pay or bills or afford the preimum for our own. I guess we can go withour food, haha! But yes a trip to the ER cost so much more than jsut getting the insurance. Sad:(
My credit is crap (I mean really bad) and its because of medical bills that we cant afford to pay. I have never had a credit card in my life but I have horrible credit, go figuar.
I guess I dont know how it would work but I think everyone deserves to have insureance wheather its given to them because they dont have it or its paid for through work. Probably wouldnt work but its a nice thought!
456039 tn?1302663748
As a Canadian I can say whole heartedly that universal health care works. Walk into a hospital, show them my provincial health card, walk out. No bills, no stress. I have a heart condition and I would not be able to have any of the testing needed if I didn't have insurance.

I hope that the USA can get it's act together so that all Americans can have the coverage they need and deserve.
1310633 tn?1430227691
I wonder if the number of uninsured people in the US increased proportionally to the number of people that lost their jobs and subsequently lost their companies insurance coverage (assuming they weren't eligible for COBRA)...

Not saying I agree or disagree with the statistics, I'm just curious if there are others that see this increase the uninsured as another byproduct of the crappy economic times we've heralded in.

Avatar universal
I am sure that the recession has made things much worse. I mean Michigan alone lost 300.000 jobs and I am sure a large part of those people who are still unemployed could not continue Cobra. Cobra is not cheap either. I am also guessing these statistics will get worse before they get better. A 4 million increase in a years time is pretty substantial and now you got even more people walking around uninsured with pre existing conditions, due to their loss of insurance when their job went bust.

What to do? That is the million dollar question these days I guess.
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