14,000 Americans Now Losing Health Insurance Every Day, Study Shows
by architek, Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:42:16 AM EST
As many as 14,000 Americans are now losing health coverage each day, acording to a recent study released by the Center for American Progress.
Many Americans did not have any health insurance even before the recession began. During the six years of the last economic expansion, the number of uninsured Americans grew by 7 million, reaching 46 million in 2007.
Job and Health Insurance Losses
That number is almost certainly much higher today because the economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since the start of 2008. A one percentage point rise in the national unemployment rate causes 2.4 million people to lose employer-sponsored health coverage, according to Urban Institute researchers. Of these people, 1 million rely on Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program and 1.1 million end up uninsured.
Since the Census Bureau's figures for uninsured Americans were collected in the spring of 2007, the unemployment rate has grown from 4.4 percent to 7.6 percent. As a result, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their health insurance and are now uninsured.
Moreover, the loss of coverage is accelerating. The unemployment rate grew by 0.8 percentage points in December and January alone, implying that nearly 900,000 people became uninsured in these two months. That's about 100,000 people a week, or 14,000 people a day. The rapid growth in the number of uninsured Americans will continue as long as the job market remains in a free fall.
The number of newly uninsured would be much higher if it weren't for people enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP. Rising unemployment rates since the last Census report imply that an additional 3.2 million Americans now rely on Medicaid or SCHIP. Congress recently provided more resources for Medicaid and CHIP, but if it had not, states would have been forced to cut eligibility for these programs. Without federal assistance, many people now on Medicaid or CHIP would likely become uninsured as well.