Uninsured climbs, putting pressure on providers

The nation's uninsured continued to climb in 2011, putting more financial pressures on the hospital sector, reported Politico.
The percentage of the nation's inhabitants lacking health insurance rose to 17.1 in 2011, or about 51 million people in all. That's the fourth straight year the percentage has risen. In 2007, the rate of uninsured was 14.8 percent.

Demographically, the biggest increases in uninsured occurred among Asian-Americans and Latinos, and those who earn less than $36,000 a year.

Those few groups that reported increases in coverage included individuals earning more than $90,000 a year, those between the ages of 18 and 25, and those age 65 and over. The last two groups presumably made gains due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to remain on their parents' policy until they turn 26 and meeting the age of eligibility for the Medicare program.

The rising rates means more patients lacking insurance are being admitted to hospitals, requiring the institutions to devote more resources to charity care or writing off charges as uncollectible. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 12 percent of hospital services can be paid for by an uninsured patient.

The data was collected by the Gallup polling organization, surveying more than 350,000 Americans during December 2011.

For more information:
- read the Politico article
- study the Gallup data
- read the HHS study