THE UNINSURED: Numbers Could Swell 41% in Coming Decade
A combination of rising health insurance premiums and a weakened economy could increase the number of uninsured Americans from 43.4 million to 61.4 million by 2009, according to a study by the National Coalition on Health Care. The study, entitled "Down a Dangerous Path: The Erosion of Health Insurance Coverage in the United States," notes that the groups most in danger of lacking insurance are the working poor, minorities, small business employees and the near-elderly. "The number of people without health insurance in this country is already a national disgrace," coalition President Dr. Henry Simmons said, adding, "It undermines the security of millions of families and the efficacy of our health system. Our political leaders must get engaged on this issue." The study includes the following predictions for the new millennium's first decade:
- Should the economy experience a slump, small business layoffs and reduced health benefits could cause 40,000 to 130,000 workers to lose health insurance annually.
- If insurance premiums increase by 7% each year between 1999 and 2008, 377,000 Americans will be added to the ranks of the uninsured.
- A "best-case scenario" of economic prosperity and reasonable health insurance costs would still mean an additional 8.8 million Americans without insurance between now and 2009.