The rate of uninsured in the United States rose dramatically in virtually all demographic categories during the Great Recession, likely increasing the financial pressure on hospitals to treat all patients and receive compensation for doing so.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual health disparities and inequalities report concluded that virtually every group of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 lost insurance coverage between 2008 and 2010, when the Great Recession hit hardest.
Among those below the federal poverty level, the level of uninsured rose from 37 percent of the population to more than 41 percent, while those whose incomes hovered near the poverty level saw their rates of uninsured climb from 30.5 percent to 34.2 percent.
African-Americans experienced a nearly 20 percent increase in the uninsured, which rose from 22.1 percent to 26.2 percent. Among Asians and Pacific Islanders, the uninsured rate rose from 14 percent, the lowest among all groups, to 17.3 percent. Whites also saw a significant increase, from 14.6 percent uninsured to 16.1 percent. Only college graduates saw their rates of uninsured remain steady, while anyone with less than a college degree--nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population--saw a rise.
The CDC did note that "coverage expansion resulting from current or future reform of health insurance policies is likely to reduce disparities in uninsured rates."
However, about half of the states have refused to expand Medicaid eligibility, putting into doubt that disparities in the rate of uninsured among poor Americans will be adequately addressed.
And while the percentage of Americans who reported their overall health as fair to poor dropped slightly, the CDC reported that the prevalence of costly chronic diseases, such as diabetes, continued to rise, from 6.9 percent of the population to just under 7.9 percent of the population. Hospitals spend about $83 billion a year to treat diabetics, with the disease contributing to about one in five hospitalizations. Increases were reported among most demographic groups, with the largest rise occurring among those living below the poverty level.
To learn more:
- read the CDC report (.pdf)
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