Fewer Poor – but more Without Health Insurance According to Census
According to just released census data, poverty has dipped in the United States. That is the good news, the bad news; more Americans are without health insurance. The census bureau report showed that there has been some economic recovery that has lead to the decrease in poverty statistics. But the ranks of those without health insurance swelled by another 2.2 million people, according to the report. Perhaps most disturbing, 700,000 of those reporting no health insurance were children.
The drop in poverty figures amounted to about half a million fewer people considered to be poor than in 2005, or a decrease from 12.6% to 12.3%. Not really all that significant of change for an economy supposedly one the rebound.
More significant was the increase in those without health insurance. According to the census report the amount of people without health insurance was by over 2 million from 2005 to 2006. According to the report the rise was mainly attributed to cuts in employer based health insurance. President Bush hailed the report for its findings that showed that poverty was down and incomes increasing. The president also acknowledged the increase in the numbers of Americans without health insurance indicated that much more is needed to be done about healthcare and providing all Americans with access to affordable medical coverage.
The cost of healthcare and access to affordable health insurance has taken center stage in the presidential race on both side of the aisle. The new census data is bound to give all the candidates on the stump espousing healthcare insurance reform new ammunition. Democratic front running candidate Senator Hillary Clinton has said of the report that it just shows how important it is that we see that every American gets access to quality and affordable healthcare insurance, and soon. Rival John Edwards said he has pledged to reduce poverty and to provide a plan for affordable health insurance for all if elected president.
Republican candidates too, of course see the need for healthcare insurance reform. But they point to the report and say that it is further evidence for the need for consumer-driven health insurance market. One that can provide more people with access to affordable private health insurance through a free market, and have them less dependent on their employers, or the government for health insurance.
The disturbing rise of 700,000 in the number of children without health insurance is expected to light a fire under congress, which is scheduled to continue to debate the fate of SCHIP funding when it returns from summer recess.