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Press Release from PNHP, RE: Skyrocketing Number of Uninsured...

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
September 16, 2010
From our Friends at Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)

Number ofuninsured skyrockets 4.3 million to record 50.7 million in2009

Big leappoints to urgency of enacting single-payer Medicare for all: national doctors'group

Sept. 16, 2010


Quentin Young, M.D.

OlveenCarrasquillo, M.D.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

Mark Almberg,PNHP, (312) 782-6006,
Local physicians in almost all 50 statesavailable for comment (See historical table of uninsured by state below).

Official estimates by the Census Bureaushowing a dramatic spike of 4.3 million in the number of Americans withouthealth insurance in 2009 - to a record 50.7 million - underscore the urgency ofgoing beyond the Obama administration's new health law and swiftly implementinga single-payer, improved Medicare-for-all program, according to Physicians for aNational Health Program, a 17,000-member physician group.

The Census Bureau reported that 16.7percent of the population lacked health insurance coverage in 2009, up from 15.4percent in 2008, when 46.3 million were uninsured.

Lack of health insurance is known to havedeadly consequences. Last year researchers at Harvard Medical School showed that45,000 deaths annually can be linked to lack of coverage.

"Tragically, we know that the new figuresof uninsured mean a preventable annual death toll of about 51,000 people -that's about one death every 11 minutes," said Dr. Quentin Young, nationalcoordinator of PNHP. Young is a Chicago-based retired physician whose privatemedical practice once counted President Obama among its patients.

Young said that even if theadministration's new health law works as planned, the Congressional BudgetOffice has projected about 50 million people will be uninsured for the nextthree years and about 23 million people will remain uninsured in 2019.

"Today's report suggests those projectionsare likely too low," he said.

The jump of 4.3 million uninsured is thelargest one-year increase on record and would have been much higher - over 10million - had there not been a huge expansion of public coverage, primarilyMedicaid, to an additional 5.8 million people.

The rise in the number of uninsured wasalmost entirely due to a sharp decline in the number of people withemployer-based coverage by 6.6 million. In 2009, 55.8 percent of the populationhad such coverage, having declined for the ninth consecutive year from 64.2percent in 2000.

The record-breaking number of uninsured -exceeding 50 million for the first time since the Census Bureau started keepingrecords - includes 10 million children.

The biggest jumps in the percentage ofuninsured were in Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Delaware, NorthCarolina and Florida. In terms of absolute numbers, the biggest increases werein California, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Alabama,Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts, 295,000 people remain uninsureddespite that state's 2006 reform. (See link below for historical tables of theuninsured by state.)

"The only way to solve this problem is toinsure everyone," Young said. "And the only way to insure everyone at areasonable cost is to enact single-payer national health insurance, an improvedMedicare for all. Single payer would streamline bureaucracy, saving $400 billiona year on administrative overhead, enough to pay for all the uninsured and toupgrade everyone else's coverage."

Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a PNHP boardmember and chief of general internal medicine at the University of Miami'sMiller School of Medicine, noted that the Census Bureau was once again silent onthe pervasive problem of "underinsurance."

"Not having health insurance, or havingpoor quality insurance that doesn't protect you from financial hardship in theface of medical need, is a source of mounting stress and poor medical outcomesfor people across our country," Carrasquillo said.  New researchhas found that about 14.1 million children and 25 million non-elderly adultswere underinsured in 2007, a figure that is likely much higher today.

"The government subsidies under the newhealth law will not be sufficient to provide quality and affordable coverage tothe vast majority of Americans," he said. "Tens of millions will remainuninsured, underinsured and without access to care. We need more fundamentalreform to a single-payer national health insurance program."

State-by-state data on theuninsured from 2006-2009 can be found here:

Physicians for a National Health Program( is anorganization of more than 17,000 doctors who support single-payer nationalhealth insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, or call(312) 782-6006.