Nearly a third of Utahns uninsured

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A third of Utahns under age 65 were without medical insurance the past two years, a percentage that is double the best local estimate, a national health care policy reform group reported this morning.

And things are going to get a lot worse because the totals don't take into account the erosion of coverage in Utah and nationwide due to the recession.

"These numbers were very high even before the economic downturn," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, author of the report. "The key motivating factor is the cost of care, which as eaten away at working family budgets, and at the same time, their dollar is buying less care and costing more in co-payments and higher premiums, both for the families and the businesses that provide a medical insurance benefit."

There were 784,000 Utahns — 32.2 percent of residents under age 65 — uninsured at some point in the two past calendar years. Utah was at the national average — 33.1 percent.

In addition, 557,000 of those uninsured Utahns or 71 percent were uninsured for six months or more during that time.

An estimated 86.7 million Americans were uninsured at some point during 2007-08, Pollack said.

"The huge number of people without health coverage in Utah is worse than an epidemic. At this point, almost everyone in the country has had a family member, neighbor, or friend who was uninsured, and that's why meaningful health care reform can no longer be kept on the back burner," he said.

The Families USA report reveals additional important demographic information about uninsured Utahns:

More than four out of five, or 84 percent, were in working families, working full or part time.

More than half, or 53.9 percent, of those individuals and families with incomes below twice the poverty line — $42,400 of annual income for a family of four in 2008 — went without health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.

In addition, almost one quarter, or 23.2 percent, of those individuals and families with incomes at or above twice the poverty line went without health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.

While whites accounted for the largest number of uninsured, Hispanics/Latinos were much more likely to be uninsured than whites: 57.2 percent of Hispanics/Latinos went without health insurance in 2007-2008, compared to 27.7 percent of whites.

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Citation

Taylor, T. (2009). Nearly a third of Utahns uninsured. Retrieved from http://www.trunity.net/USDC/view/article/51cbeaf77896bb431f686941

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