Statement from Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis on Census Bureau's Revised Estimates of Uninsured

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<p>While the new Census Bureau figures on health insurance released today reveal that the 2005 estimates were lower than previously reported, they nevertheless affirm that the number of Americans without insurance has risen rapidly since 2000. The new figures also help explain the longstanding discrepancies between Census figures and data from other insurance surveys, such as those conducted by states. <br><br>The revised estimates from the Bureau--whose surveys are considered the gold standard--show that in 2005, 44.8 million people were uninsured, about 1.8 million fewer people than previously reported. Still, few could argue that 44.8 million people living without insurance is an acceptable number, particularly in a nation that spends nearly twice as much per capita on health care as any other country. We know that people living without health care coverage are less likely to get prompt access to doctors, receive appropriate preventive care, or be able to manage chronic conditions. They also face mounting medical debt.<Br><Br>Lack of insurance affects more than just low-income Americans. The Commonwealth Fund 2005 Biennial Health Insurance Survey found that while America's uninsured crisis disproportionately affects lower-income working families, middle-class Americans are increasingly going without health coverage as well. Two of five working-age Americans with annual incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 were uninsured for at least part of the past year. This represents a dramatic and rapid rise from 2001, when just over one-quarter of this group was uninsured.<Br><Br>Another Commonwealth Fund study revealed that approximately 16 million Americans are underinsured. This means that despite having insurance coverage they were without adequate financial protection and avoided needed care because of cost.<bR><br>While it is good to have the corrected Census Bureau data, the new figure still reflects an upward trend in the total number of uninsured. It should serve as another reminder that we as a nation should be working toward a health system that is truly high performing--one that provides accessible, high-quality, equitable, patient-centered care for all.</p>