According to figures released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau, some 50 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2010. That number is almost a million higher than for 2009, though the percentage of people uninsured remained largely unchanged.
Employer sponsored insurance continued to decline in 2010. At the same time, one million young adults gained coverage and more people were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act promises to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, but its main provisions do not take effect until 2014.
Who are the uninsured? Why do so many Americans lack coverage? What are the trends in coverage among different segments of the population, and where are these trends heading? What does the high number of uninsured Americans mean for health care costs and the health care system?
These questions and more were addressed at an October 14 briefing cosponsored by the Alliance and the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Panelists were: Kate Baicker, Harvard University; Rachel Garfield, the Kaiser Family Foundation; John Holahan, the Urban Institute; and Kirk Calhoun, the University of Texas at Tyler, chairman of the board of the National Association of Public Hospitals. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Diane Rowland of the Kaiser Family Foundation moderated.
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