Medical News and Perspectives
May 19, 2004

Forecast for US Uninsured Remains Gloomy

JAMA. 2004;291(19):2305-2306. doi:10.1001/jama.291.19.2305

Chicago—Just like the weather, everybody talks about the growing number of individuals without health insurance in the United States, but no one seems to do anything about it. At a recent forum on the issue in Chicago sponsored by the Harvard University School of Public Health (Boston, Mass) and other groups, policy leaders offered a largely gloomy forecast concerning access to health care by the uninsured.

The statistics are sobering. In 2002, an estimated 43.3 million individuals in the United States had no health insurance for the entire year. One in six individuals younger than 65 years (17.2%) is uninsured; one in five families with children has at least one uninsured member. The cost, due to poorer health arising from lack of health insurance, is estimated to be between $65 billion and $130 billion annually. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that 18 000 individuals die each year because of medical conditions exacerbated by not having insurance.

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