52 Million American Adults Uninsured in 2010, Study Says

March 16, 2011

Want to hear something really scary? A new study says that roughly twenty percent – or nine million out of 43 million adults who lost jobs in the last two years – ended up without any health insurance, and that nine million represents 57 percent of everyone who lost their insurance when they lost their jobs, at least according to the healthcare research and reform advocacy group The Commonwealth Fund.

Further data from the study showed that 25 percent of people who lost their employer-sponsored health insurance were able to find other coverage, while 14 percent paid COBRA premiums to keep their job-based coverage. For many others, however, 16 million out of an estimated 26 million adults who tried to buy health insurance on the individual insurance market in the last three years found it difficult or impossible to find coverage they could afford, and 9 million said they were either turned down or charged more because of an existing health problem, or had a pre-existing condition excluded from their new policy.

The data gets worse. According to the survey 52 million American adults had no health coverage at some point in 2010 while the number of uninsured adults was only 38 million in 2001. The most likely people to be uninsured were adults in families with low-to-moderate incomes (under $44,100/year for a family of four) with 54 percent of lower income adults and 41 percent of moderate income adults being uninsured, while only 13 percent of adults with higher incomes lacked insurance coverage.

Further information from the survey says that 73 million people were either paying off medical debt or were having trouble paying medical bills, while 25 percent of adults with chronic conditions either skipped regular medications, or skipped filling a prescription.

Sara Collins, the author of the study and vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, explained, “The survey shows that over the last decade, increasing numbers of people across the income spectrum went without health insurance, avoided timely health care because it was too expensive, and struggled with medical debt. Millions of working families reported making difficult trade-offs between paying off their medical debt, buying other life necessities, and saving for the future.”

Collins also said that last year’s federal health care reform laws will, “…ensure that families will have the financial means to get the health care that they need, both in good economic times and bad.”

Well, unless the Republicans in Congress don’t kill it.