Health Center News, Uncategorized

New Data on Uninsured and the Recession

By Amy Simmons Farber

New data offer a snapshop of where the American population stands in terms of poverty and health.   The U.S. Census Bureau released their 2011 Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance  Coverage Report last week. The report estimates that the number of uninsured  people decreased to 48.6 million (15.7%) in 2011, from 50 million (16.3%) in   2010.

Bottom line: for the first time in the last 10 years, the rate of pri­vate  insurance coverage did decrease and stayed steady at 63.9%.  In fact, uninsured rates significantly declined for adults between 19 and 25 from 8.8  million (29.8%) to 8.3 million (27.7%) in 2011. Some experts claim this may  be due to the Affordable Care Act, because the law now allows adult children up to age 26 to stay on  their parents’ private insurance plans.   Yet, for the older age bracket — people in their late fifties — these tough economic times may not only affect their wallet if they are unemployed, but also their health.

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that experiencing a recession has long-term effects for older workers and their health because they face unemployment as well as the loss of their insurance coverage.  Yet, people who are slightly older are better off because of safety nets such as  Social Security and Medicare, note the authors.  Community Health Centers have been lifelines for the growing population of uninsured, and now care for 1 out of 6 uninsured Americans.   They are also a more affordable option for the working poor; 1 in 4 adults who are low-income, employed, and uninsured has turned to them for care.  You can check out that data in NACHC’s report (2011), “Access Endangered.”