By Maggie Fox, Health
and Science Editor
Tue Nov 9, 2010 9:08pm EST
Nearly 59 million Americans went without health insurance coverage for at least
part of 2010, many of them with conditions or diseases that needed treatment,
federal health officials said on Tuesday.
They said 4 million more Americans went without insurance
in the first part of 2010 than during the same time in 2008.
“Both adults and kids
lost private coverage over the past decade,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, told a news
The findings have
implications for U.S. healthcare reform efforts. A bill passed in March promises
to get health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack
But Republicans who
just took control of the House of Representatives last week have vowed to derail
the new law by cutting off the funds for it, and some want to repeal it. Experts
from both sides predict gridlock in Congress for the next two years in
implementing healthcare reform’s provisions.
Even before the
healthcare reform act, Congress passed provisions expanding free health coverage
“As private insurance
coverage fell, the safety net protected children, but did not adequately protect
adults,” Frieden said.
Nine percent of adults
lost private insurance, and public insurance picked up just 5 percent of them,
the CDC said. Frieden said 22 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 are
The CDC analyzed data
from the National Health Interview Survey or NHIS for 2006, 2007,
2008, and 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 for its report. “It’s an in-person
household survey interviewing nearly 90,000 individuals from around 35,000
households,” Frieden said.
The analysis found that
in the first quarter of 2010, an estimated 59.1 million people had no health
insurance for at least part of the year, an increase from 58.7 million in 2009
and 56.4 million in 2008.
More than 80 percent
were adults aged 18 to 64. People over 65 are eligible for Medicare, the federal
health insurance plan for the elderly.
Frieden said more people
also went for a year or more with no health insurance — from 27.5 million in
2008 to 30.4 million in the first quarter of 2010. “That’s an increase of 3
million in chronically uninsured adults,” he said.
“Now, the data also
allow us to debunk two myths about health care coverage,” Frieden
“The first myth is that
it’s only the poor who are uninsured. In fact, half of the uninsured are over
the poverty level and one in three adults under 65 in the middle income range —
defined arbitrarily here between $44,000 and $65,000 a year for a family of four
— were uninsured at some point in the year.”
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