We were so prepared. In the days leading up to Tuesday’s Census Bureau release of 2007 health coverage data, we formatted spreadsheets to analyze the new numbers. We drafted potential language for our press release. We listened to the forecasts of health economists, predicting that the number of uninsured Americans would continue its upward trend this year.
And then we got the data. Surprise! The number of uninsured Americans did not increase, as expected. Instead, there was a modest decline in the uninsured, from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million in 2007. Rates of uninsurance decreased for women specifically; in 2007, 281,000 fewer women (ages 18 and older) were uninsured, and the proportion of uninsured women dropped slightly from 15.1 to 14.8 percent. Though women of color are still considerably more likely to lack insurance than their white counterparts, rates of uninsurance went down for women across race categories with one exception – more Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander women were uninsured in 2007 than in 2006. Uninsurance among Hispanic women fell by 2 percentage points – the largest decline of all.
So, what gives? How can the number of uninsured Americans be going down when we know that a) more and more people are skipping necessary care because they can’t afford it, b) the cost of health insurance premiums is growing much faster than wages, and c) fewer small and medium-sized businesses are offering health coverage to their workers each year?
And the gold star goes to…public health insurance! Read the full post.