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economic justice | health | labor

Study finds many lack health insurance

WASHINGTON - Nearly 82 million people - one third of the U.S. population younger than 65 - lacked health insurance at some point in the past two years and most of those were uninsured for more than nine months, says a study by the private group Families USA.
The Register-Guard
June 16, 2004

The problem reaches deep into the middle class, affects blacks and Hispanics disproportionately and is most pronounced among people younger than 25, according to the group's analysis of recent census data.

The study, which was being released today, found that 8.5 million Texas residents, or 43.4 percent of the nonelderly population there, did not have health insurance - the highest rate in the country.

Other states where more than 35 percent of people younger than 65 were uninsured were: New Mexico, 42.4 percent; California, 37.1 percent; Nevada, 36.8 percent; Louisiana, 36.2 percent; Arizona, 35.7 percent; Mississippi, 35.1 percent; and Oklahoma, 35 percent.

Numerous studies have associated a lack of health insurance with poorer health and earlier death, as well as delayed and inadequate medical care.

Ron Pollack, Families USA's executive director, said fast-rising health care costs, a soft labor market in which employers are passing more health costs to workers and reductions in state safety net programs are resulting in substantial increases in the number of uninsured.

The study focused on Americans younger than 65 because older Americans are covered by the federal government's Medicare program.