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Commonwealth Fund Finds More Moderate and Middle-Income American Families Uninsured

APRIL 26, 2006 -- Two of five working-age Americans with yearly incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 were uninsured for at least part of the past year, a "dramatic and rapid" increase from 2001 when just over a quarter of those Americans were uninsured, according to a Commonwealth Fund study released Wednesday.

The report also found that one of five adults—both insured and uninsured—currently has medical debt. Nearly two-thirds of adults with medical bills or debt problems said they or their family members were insured when they incurred the debt.

"The jump in uninsured among those with modest incomes is alarming, particularly at a time when our economy has been improving," study co-author and Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said in a statement. "If we don't act soon to expand coverage to the uninsured, the health of the U.S. population, the productivity of our workforce, and our economy are at risk."

Lower-income adults were still the most likely to be uninsured. Of an estimated 48 million working-age Americans uninsured during the year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time. Researchers also found that 59 percent of those adults who were without insurance in the past year and suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma went without or skipped their medications because they could not afford them.

How to provide coverage to the uninsured will come to the nation's attention again during Covered the Uninsured Week May 1–7, with thousands of activities scheduled across the country and in Washington to push Congress to take action on the issue.

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