MANAGED CARE April 2003. ©MediMedia USA
About 75 million nonelderly Americans went without health insurance during some period in the last two years, which means that the problem is much worse than commonly thought, according to a new study.
The study — prepared by Families USA for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — uses data collected by the Census Bureau. The New York Times reports that "The study differed from the approach taken by the Census Bureau, which tries to estimate the number of people who are uninsured throughout an entire previous year. Last fall, the Census Bureau placed that number at 41 million. The new study tried to measure the number of people who lacked coverage for part of a two-year period."
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, tells the Los Angeles Times that "The uninsured problem is no longer an issue of altruism for other people. Now it is an issue of self-interest for us all."
Not only did many U.S residents go without insurance, but many went without insurance for a considerable length of time. According to the study, about 74.7 million lacked health insurance for part of 2001 or 2002. About 25 percent lacked insurance for the entire 24 months.
Another 25 percent lacked coverage for three to five months. Only about 10 percent lacked coverage for two months or less.