More than 60 percent of Americans get their health insurance through an employer, according to Census Bureau statistics. The number of people without insurance rose last year from 43 million to 45 million. Some experts say that rising insurance costs are in part to blame.
Families USA said it found 85.2 million people went without health insurance for some time during 2003 and 2004. "In 2003-2004, one out of every three Americans under 65 years of age went without health insurance for some period of time. Over half of these people were uninsured for at least nine months," the group said. "The number of people who were uninsured at some point in 2003-2004 exceeds the combined population of 32 states and the District of Columbia," Pollack added. "This is an epidemic that requires immediate attention."
For the report Families USA used data compiled and analyzed by The Lewin Group from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
More statistics about the why people are uninsured:
A number of new reports out this fall indicate the nation's healthcare crisis is worsening, with statistics indicating both a larger number of uninsured and a continuing double-digit rise in health care costs to employers.
An annual survey of 3,000 companies conducted between January and May of this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust showed that the cost of providing health care to employees has risen 11.2 percent this year. That marks the fourth straight year those figures have been in the double-digit range. As a result, there has been a steady decline in the number of workers and their families receiving health care coverage from their employers.
Although the increase in health care costs appears to have slowed from the record 13.9 percent in 2003, marking a downturn for the first time since 1996, the study noted that the 11.2 percent increase was still more than five times the national increase in wages as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Small businesses were particularly hard hit by the rising cost of health care, the study said, with the average family coverage in a preferred provider network rising to $10,217, of which employees paid $2.691. That same family coverage cost $4,500 in 1999, health experts said.
The study said because of that expense, many small companies are no longer offering coverage to a worker's spouse or children.
The study reported that the number of companies of all sizes offering health benefits to their workers has dropped from 65 percent in 2001 to 61 percent this year.
According to the Census Bureau, a record 45 million individuals are now uninsured.
About one-third of those uninsured residents come from households with annual incomes above $50,000 a year.
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