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Life Health > Health Insurance

Majority Of Uninsured May Be Insurable

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About 80% of uninsured Americans say they are in good, very good or excellent health.

The percentage of uninsured Americans who are happy with their health ranges from 72% in Texas to 90% in Hawaii, according to a statistical portrait of the uninsured compiled by researchers at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J., commissioned the report in connection with Cover the Uninsured Week. Organizers of the week, which starts May 1, are trying to draw attention to the plight of U.S. residents without health coverage and come up with strategies for expanding access to health coverage.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, the leading insurance industry trade group, and the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va., have been emphasizing the diversity of uninsured Americans and the need for solutions to meet the needs of specific types of uninsured individuals.

“The myth is that the uninsured are all poor and in poor health,” says Lynn Blewett, director of the University of Minnesota health access data center. “But many are working and healthy, and there are a large number who are potentially insurable,” even in states that allow medical underwriting in the individual market.

Blewett’s team does not look at the income or net worth of uninsured Americans in the new report, but the report does include statistics dealing with uninsured workers.

The percentage of working adults who are uninsured is under 10% only in Delaware, Minnesota and the District of Columbia, according to Blewett’s team.

In 7 states, more than 20% of working adults are uninsured. In Texas, the state with highest percentage of uninsured working adults, about 27% of workers say they are uninsured.

One popular belief is that uninsured Americans get a reasonably high level of care from emergency rooms and “safety net” programs. But one 2002 federal survey found that about 41% of uninsured adults were unable to seek treatment for health problems in the previous 12 months because of concerns about cost, compared with just 8.6% of the adults with health coverage, according to Blewett’s team.


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