US Census Bureau Confirms Rising Poverty, Falling Incomes, and Growing Numbers of Uninsured

Published on Global Research.ca, by Stephen Lendman, September 14, 2009.

In early September, The US Census Bureau released its new report titled Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, 74 pdf-pages, showing disturbing data that portends much worse ahead under a president and Congress doing nothing to address it …

… Continued Erosion of Health Care Coverage:

In 2008, the Bureau also collected data on health insurance coverage, putting the number of uninsured at 46.3 million last year (15.4 of the population), or an increase of 682,000 over 2007. It was the eighth consecutive year that fewer workers got employer-provided coverage, and those with it had to pay more of the cost.  

Other estimates are far grimmer. Some, including the Congressional Budget Office, place the current uninsured total at about 50 million, and a May 2009 Todd Gilmer – Richard Kronick study estimated that 191,670 more lose coverage monthly, 2.3 million annually at the present rate, and an expected 6.9 million more Americans (over 2007) will lack it by yearend 2010 if the present trend continues.

Add to these the underinsured. According to the American Public Health Association, at least another 25 million at great risk if they face a serious health problem not covered by their present plan. In addition, Families USA estimates about 90 million Americans had no health insurance during some portion of 2007 or 2008. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported that over 80% of the uninsured come from working families, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimated that 27% of under aged-65 year old Americans lack coverage.

Still other estimates project up to 60 million uninsured if the commonly reported U-3 unemployment rate hits 10%, and the Urban Institute sees around 66 million without coverage by 2019, given the present trend of rising costs forcing employers increasingly to cut back.

Bureau data show that coverage weakened across most sectors of the population, including full-time workers and the middle class, the result of economic decline and years of employers putting a greater burden on their workforce.

Since at least 2001, the percent of workers with employer-provided insurance has steadily eroded, and it’s the main reason behind growing numbers of uninsured and underinsured. In 2008, 61.9% of the below-aged 65 population had job-provided coverage, down from 67% in 2001 and falling due to cost cutting, continued job losses, and the trend to lower-paying ones.

In addition, holding a job no longer guarantees coverage. Plans offered have been greatly eroded, and medical expenses today are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies. America is the world’s only industrialized country denying its citizens universal coverage, yet spends on average more than double the other 30 OECD countries and delivers less for it because of unaffordable private insurance and overpriced drugs.

Nothing being debated in Washington addresses this, so whatever legislation emerges will make a dysfunctional system worse with the American public betrayed by “a slick-talking street hustler”- what analyst Bob Chapman calls Obama, or according to James Petras, “the greatest con man in recent history.” Make that plural with Congress under Democrat or Republican leadership because both parties are beholden to the corporate interests that own them and are indifferent to growing public needs.

Since taking office in January, Obama kept reform off the table, made progressive change a nonstarter, and achieved the impossible by governing worse than George Bush on virtually all of his domestic and foreign policies. Along with looting the federal Treasury, wrecking the economy, selling out to Wall Street, and continuing imperial wars, Obamacare is the centerpiece of his failed agenda and a betrayal of the public’s trust … (full long text).

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