Have a Health Care Reform Headache?
August 27, 2009
We have the cure to what ails you! Here is a rundown of the basics about what health coverage looks like now, and what may change under bills being developed on Capitol Hill to reform the health care system:
Q: Where do most people in America get their insurance now?
An estimated 253.4 million people had coverage in 2007, according to the most recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau. The majority of those had private insurance, most of it obtained through an employer. Eighty-three million people got health insurance from the government through Medicare, Medicaid or some other program such as the Veterans Health Administration.
Q: How many people don’t have coverage?
The Census Bureau estimated that 45.7 million people in the country under age 65 did not have insurance in 2007. (Most discussions focus on those under 65 because senior citizens have access to Medicare.)
Many experts believe that the number of uninsured is higher now, perhaps 47 million or more, because so many people have lost coverage in the economic downturn. Even more people may go without coverage for a time as a result of changing jobs, leaving school or some other event. An analysis by the consumer group Families USA estimated that about 64.5 million people were uninsured for at least six months in 2007 and 2008.
The majority of the uninsured, more than eight in 10, are in working families.
Q: Is it true that most people who are uninsured have money but choose not to be insured, or are illegal immigrants?
No. A study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found:
— 66 percent of the uninsured were either poor or near poor, as defined by the federal poverty level.
— Young adults, age 19-29, comprise a large share of the uninsured, mostly because of their low incomes.
— 79 percent of the uninsured were U.S. citizens.