The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Update on health-insurance coverage in the US

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) has just released data on the extent of lack of health coverage, and in particular the lack of continuity of coverage. This is of course a central issue for presidential candidates and others who are debating what to do about the problem. From AHRQ's News and Numbers:
More than 17 million Americans under age 65 – almost a third of whom are middle income, could be considered continuously uninsured. This means that they have not had health insurance to help cover their medical bills for at least four years, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Middle income Americans are defined as living in families earning between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty thresholds, which vary according to family size and composition. In 2004, the base year for these data, poverty level income for a family of four averaged $19,307. From AHRQ's News and Numbers: The AHRQ data examined Americans who were continuously uninsured for at least four years between 2002 and 2005 as well as those who were uninsured for shorter periods over those years. The AHRQ data also show that:
o Poor Americans, those in families with incomes at or below the Federal poverty line, comprised about a quarter of the continuously uninsured. In contrast, less than 10 percent of the continuously uninsured were people who lived in families with incomes over 400 percent of the Federal poverty line.
o Fully 17 percent of Hispanics were continuously uninsured, compared with 7 percent of blacks, and 4 percent of whites.
o Some 12 percent of people age 25 to 29 years of age were continuously uninsured, followed by Americans age 18 to 24 (11 percent), 30 to 34 (10 percent), 35 to 54 (8 percent), and 55 to 64 (5 percent). However, only 2 percent of children and adolescents under 18 years of age were continuously uninsured.

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