FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
NEW REPORT FINDS 86.7 MILLION AMERICANS WERE UNINSURED AT SOME POINT IN
Three Out of Four of Those without Health Coverage
Were Uninsured for At Least Six Months
One Out of Three Non-Elderly Americans Were Uninsured At Some Point in
that Two-Year Period
Washington, D.C. - Approximately 86.7 million Americans - one out of
three people (33.1 percent) under 65 years of age - were uninsured at
some point during 2007-2008, according to a report released today by the
health consumer organization Families USA.
The report, based on data from the Census Bureau and the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality, shows that most of those who were
uninsured lacked coverage for lengthy periods of time: nearly
three-fourths (74.5 percent) were uninsured for at least six months, and
almost two-thirds (60.2 percent) were uninsured for nine months or
The data in the Families USA report supplement other Census Bureau data
that are commonly used, such as the 45.7 million people deemed to be
uninsured for the entire 2007 calendar year. The report provides
important insights about the people who did not have health coverage for
all or part of the latest two-year period (2007-2008).
“The huge number of people without health coverage is worse than an
epidemic,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “At
this point, almost everyone in the country has had a family member,
neighbor, or friend who was uninsured - and that’s why meaningful
health care reform can no longer be kept on the back burner.”
Key findings in the report include the following data for non-elderly
* Four out of five (79.2 percent) of the uninsured were in working
families: 69.7 percent of the families included a worker who was
employed full-time and 9.5 percent a worker who was employed part-time.
* More than half (52 percent) of individuals and families with incomes
between the poverty line and twice the poverty line - between $21,200
and $42,400 of annual income for a family of four in 2008 - went without
health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.
* More than one-third (33.7 percent) of individuals and families with
incomes between twice the poverty line and three times the poverty line
- between $42,400 and $63,600 of annual income for a family of four in
2008 - went without health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.
* White, non-Hispanics constituted half (49.8 percent) of the people
who were uninsured. However, the likelihood of being uninsured was
higher for minorities: one-quarter (25.8 percent) of non-Hispanic whites
were uninsured at some point in 2007-2008 compared to 40.3 percent of
African Americans and 55.1 percent of Hispanics.
“Inaction on health care reform in 2009 cannot be an option for the
tens of millions of people who lack or lose health coverage each
year,” said Pollack. “The cost of doing nothing is much too high:
More and more people would fail to get the health care they need or
would risk being bankrupted by unaffordable health care costs.”
The report also catalogues the potential dire consequences of people
being uninsured. According to the report, the uninsured are less likely
to have a usual source of care outside of an emergency room; they often
go without screenings and preventive care; they delay and forgo needed
medical care; they are sicker and die earlier than those who have
insurance; and, when they do receive care, they pay more for that care.
"While over 15% of Americans are uninsured, we now have another harsh
fact in the crisis in health care in America: one in every 3 Americans
under age 65 were uninsured at some point over the past two years," said
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee. "Our mandate is clear: to provide affordable health
insurance coverage and to control the growth in health care costs in
order to fund more health care services. This is a year of decision in
health care, and I am committed to succeeding in passing comprehensive
health care for all Americans."
"If you weren't convinced of the need for health care reform, the data
in this report will do the job," said Senator Casey. "We are not simply
talking about numbers; tens of millions of Americans are faced with the
fear and uncertainty of a lack of health care coverage."
"For those who believe we can afford to wait to fix our broken health
care system, this is a reality check," said U.S. Senator Sheldon
Whitehouse (D-RI). "Every American family deserves health care they can
count on -- that means comprehensive coverage within a delivery system
that provides high quality, efficient, accessible, coordinated, and
"This report by Families USA demonstrates how we have reached a point
of crisis that requires real action," U.S. Representative Frank Pallone
said. "Fortunately, we have already begun to act. As President Obama
stated in his national address to Congress last week, we have done more
to reform our health care system in the past 30 days, than in the past
decade. However, our work has just begun. Tomorrow, the president will
host a summit on health reform and next week my subcommittee will begin
hearings to better inform us on how best to go about producing real and
meaningful health care reform. We have real momentum with us right now.
We must not squander this opportunity."
The Families USA report was based on data from the Census Bureau’s
Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program
Participation as well as the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey used by
the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. The data were compiled
with the assistance of The Lewin Group, a distinguished health policy
and data consulting firm.
A copy of the report is available at: