THE UNINSURED: 60 Million May Lack Coverage by 2008
Despite steady economic growth, the number of uninsured Americans continues to rise, according to a study released yesterday by the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA). The study, "Health Insurance Coverage and the Uninsured: 1990-1998" predicts that the number of uninsured could grow to 55 million, or 22% of the non-elderly population, by 2008. Should the economy suffer a downturn, the HIAA report estimates that the number of uninsured could grow to 60 million. Based on Census Bureau data gathered between 1991-1998, the number of uninsured Americans between the ages of 18-64 totaled 44 million, or 18%, in 1998. Medicaid enrollment has fallen in the last five years, leading to a higher number of uninsured, poor Americans -- those with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level. But the study found that the number of non-poor -- those with incomes 200% above the federal poverty level -- who lack insurance is growing at a faster rate than the poor. The number of non-poor, uninsured Americans rose from 40% in 1994 to 46% in 1998. The study partially attributes that trend to the growing number of employers who do not offer health coverage. Gender was a significant factor in the rate of those lacking coverage: the percentage of uninsured women outpaced that of men in every adult age group between 1997-1998. Figures for the state-by-state analysis are currently unavailable as they are being updated. HIAA President Chip Kahn said, "This study confirms that the plight of the nation's uninsured must be our nation's top priority. No longer can our nation ignore the growing magnitude of this problem" (HIAA release, 12/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.