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.
Mitka M. Forecast for US Uninsured Remains Gloomy. JAMA. 2004;291(19):2305-2306. doi:10.1001/jama.291.19.2305