New Census Poverty Measure Shows Medical Expenses Push 10 Million More Americans into Poverty

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<p>A new report released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the growing burden of health care costs in family budgets is impoverishing millions of U.S. families. Using an experimental "supplemental poverty measure," the Census Bureau finds that when health care costs are subtracted from family incomes, 10 million more people in the United States become officially poor.</p>
<p>In a <a href="/blog/2011/new-census-poverty-measure-shows-medical-expenses-push-10-million-more-americans-poverty">new blog post</a>, The Commonwealth Fund’s Sara Collins, Ph.D., says that of all the new dimensions in the supplemental poverty measure—which also takes into account in-kind income transfers like food stamps as well as significant costs like payroll taxes—out-of-pocket health care spending has the greatest overall effect on poverty. The effect on older adults is particularly severe, with the estimated poverty rate rising by more than seven percentage points. This finding, Collins says, suggests we should be looking for ways to improve Medicare benefits rather than cut them. </p>
<p>"The new Census measure provides important new insights into the economic realities of families living at or near the poverty level," Collins says. "It highlights the need for reforms that will ensure affordable health insurance and health care, especially for low- and moderate-income families"<br /></p>