Census: More Californians Lack Health Insurance, Live in Poverty

The rate of Californians living in poverty continues to rise, and nearly one in five state residents lacked health insurance last year, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California-Specific Data

According to the report, 7.2 million Californians -- or 19.4% of state residents -- lacked insurance in 2010. California ranked eighth among states for having the highest rate of residents who are not insured. Texas had the highest rate of uninsured residents at 24.6% (Semuels/Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 9/13).

In addition, the census data showed that the state's poverty rate rose to 16.3% last year, its highest level in more than 10 years, and that household incomes fell by 5% (Reese, Sacramento Bee, 9/14).

Higher rates of unemployment and poverty mean more people are going without insurance and basic medical care that can help prevent illness and avoid hospital care, according to the Times.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said that low-income individuals and families end up "living sicker, dying younger and being one emergency room visit away from financial ruin" (Los Angeles Times, 9/13).

National Data

Meanwhile, the report showed that the number of uninsured U.S. residents increased by about 900,000, to 49.9 million, from 2009 to 2010.

However, because of population growth, the uninsurance rate in 2010 remained relatively steady at 16.3%, compared with 16.1% in 2009.

The report also found that the number of covered individuals who obtain their insurance through public programs increased for the fourth consecutive year. The percentage of U.S. residents covered by private health insurance declined from 64.5% in 2009 to 64% in 2010, while the percentage of residents covered by public plans increased from 30.6% in 2009 to 31% in 2010 (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/13).

About 55.3% of U.S. residents had employer-sponsored coverage, down from 56.1% in 2009 and 64% in 1999 (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 9/13).

The data also showed that the number of U.S. residents covered by Medicaid rose by about 1.5%, to 48.6 million, and Medicare enrollment increased by 2.1%, to 44.3 million (Selyukh, Reuters, 9/13).

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