The number of Americans without health insurance rose to 41.2 million last year, due largely to a decrease in employment-based coverage, the United States Census Bureau reports.
“The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance dropped a point, to 62.6% in 2001,” the Bureau says.
“That was the principal cause of the overall decease in health insurance coverage,” according to the report.
“This new number means that there are more uninsured people than the aggregate population of 23 states plus the District of Columbia,” says Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington-based consumers organization.
The only silver lining in the Census Bureaus report, he says, is that public programs such as Medicaid covered more people last year and cushioned the loss of coverage in the private sector.
“This demonstrates that public program expansions should be enacted to increase health coverage for low-wage working adults,” Pollack says.
Donald Young, president of the Washington-based Health Insurance Association of America, says however, that the jump in the number of uninsured Americans should raise a warning flag to federal and state lawmakers.