Health Inc.

Nearly 60 Million Had No Health Coverage In 2008

How many people in this country are without insurance? About 60 million during all or part of a recent year, according to an estimate just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From interviews by the Census Bureau, the CDC figures 45.4 million people, or 15.1% of the U.S. population of all ages didn't have any health insurance when the question was posed during the first half of 2009. But widen the question ask if people didn't have coverage for any part of the past year and you get to 58.4 million people, or 19.4 percent of the population.

Chart showing percentage of adults 18-64 who lacked health insurance coverage.

Health insurance gaps and churn remain problems

Percentage of adults aged 18-64 years who lacked health insurance coverage at the time of interview, for at least part of the past year, or for more than a year. (CDC)

To us, the real interesting stuff emerges in the group of folks aged 18 to 64, generally without recourse to Medicare or to SCHIP coverage for kids.

In that group, about 1 in 4 people didn't have health coverage for at least part of the year. That figure, lower than the 1 in 5 who were uninsured at the time the questions were asked, illustrates how commonplace it is for people to slip in and out of coverage.

For the broader health overhaul debate, it's another reminder of how vulnerable people in their working years are to losing insurance. Indeed, 60.6 percent of the unemployed 15- to 64-year-olds had been without coverage for at least part of the past year.

And each lapse also raises the possibility of a coverage denial when a person tries to get insured again.

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