Ranks of Uninsured Growing

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In case anyone was under the illusion that the health insurance situation is improving in this country, a recently-released Commonwealth Fund report sets things straight. 37 percent of low-income workers are currently uninsured, up from 33 percent in 2001. And the number of low-income workers who have gone without insurance at some point in the past year is 53 percent. This despite the fact that Medicaid is ostensibly supposed to help cover this group (it doesn’t, of course, and has way too many gaps to be fully effective, but that’s another story).

“Moderate income” workers, making between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, aren’t doing too well either—the number of uninsured has risen from 17 percent five years ago to 28 percent today. And this all matters: more than half of all uninsured adults have debt or medical bill problems. 59 percent of uninsured adults with a chronic illness had to skip a treatment or a prescription. Those adults are much more likely to go to an emergency room than those with insurance. It’s a crisis.

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