God, Hope & Helping Others
A new survey says that more U.S. residents live without health insurance for a period of time than the number 20 years ago. These periods are called "gaps in coverage," and if urgent medical care were needed during these gaps, it could pose a potentially financially crippling scenario.
The good news is that the gaps are shorter than they used to be. Americans receive health coverage from Medicaid and other government initiatives. But the bad news is that private insurers keep reducing their client list. People of all income brackets are losing their coverage in the U.S.
Without the government's insurance help, it would right now already be a considerable problem.
The new survey appeared in the prestigious "New England Journal of Medicine." It found that nearly 46 million U.S. residents had no health insurance in 2007. That is a gigantic number. In 2006, the number was 47 million, with the slight drop coming with more people enrolled in government-backed health programs.
In 2006, the Census Bureau reported that 80.3 million Americans had government health coverage and that number rose to 83 million in 2007. The percentage of people with private insurers decreased during that year to 67.5% from 67.9%.
Now, those gaps in coverage have been rising over the years. In the U.S., 21.8% of Americans lost health coverage in a 12-month period from 2001 to 2004 -- that is up from 19.8% in an earlier timeframe. Unfortunately, the situation is undoubtedly bleaker now that the recession has hit and people are losing health coverage right along with their jobs.
The Census Bureau found that people at the lowest educational level are most likely to lose health insurance. In that 2001-2004 period, the risk for them was 40.3%, up more than eight full percentage points from an earlier period. The corresponding risk for college graduates was far lower, at 10.2%.
People with moderate or poor health had a probability of losing health coverage of 30.5%, a rise of 11.2% in a previous period. People in excellent health had a corresponding probability of losing coverage of 17.7%. Basically, the sicker you are, the greater the likelihood that you don't have health coverage.
One bright spot was that the periods in which people were uninsured were not as long. Those uninsured for two or more years from 2001-2004 lowered to 20.3%, a dip of six percent. Medicaid has a lot to do with this.
This survey stands as a state-of-the-union on health insurance in the U.S., but, as mentioned, it does not account for the recent downturn in the economy. Access to health insurance remains one of the country's biggest issues. This is one more reason why many people are turning to cheaper, natural ways to treat or prevent disease.
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