June 18, 2009
6/18: One-Fifth of Americans Currently Lack Health Insurance
Although 79% of Americans report that they have health insurance, a notable proportion — 21% — have at least one member in their household currently without a health plan.
The fact that money matters is an understatement. While 97% of Americans making $100,000 a year annually and 87% of those bringing in between $50,000 and $99,999 a year say they have a health plan, just 67% of residents with an annual salary of less than $50,000 are covered. And, while our country has made great strides in breaking the color barrier, that does not translate into adequate health coverage for minorities. 84% of white residents say they have health insurance while 69% of African Americans and 63% of Latinos report the same.
Younger Americans are far less likely to have health insurance compared with their elders. Only 53% of those 18 to 29 say they are fully covered. However, take a look at the proportion of insured as you move up the age spectrum. 81% of those 30 to 44 years old and the same proportion of those 45 to 59 have health insurance. Nearly all those approaching or at Medicare eligibility — 92% of those 60 and older — have a health plan.
Need to Fill the Gap
Although 79% of Americans report they currently have health insurance that’s not the end of the story. 8% of Americans with health insurance report a time during the last 12 months when someone in their household did not have a health plan. When that is added to the 21% of residents currently without health coverage the proportion of Americans with continuous coverage over the past year slides to 71%.
The bad news doesn’t stop there. Another 10% of Americans have had to reduce their health plan in the past year in order to lower costs. All told, only 61% of Americans had continuous coverage over the past year without reducing their benefits due to cost.
Once again, income makes a difference. Just half of households earning less than $50,000 annually had continuous coverage without a reduction of benefits during the past year. This compares with 78% of households making $100,000 or more. African Americans, as a group, are hard hit. Only 43% of African American households report that everyone in their household had continuous coverage during the past year without seeing a loss of benefits.
Most young adults under thirty do not have steady health care coverage. Only 35% of adults between 18 and 29 years old had continuous health insurance coverage in the past year without having to further cut benefits to save money.