Millions Of Americans Went Without Insurance From 2004 To 2007
August 10, 2012

Millions Of Americans Went Without Insurance From 2004 To 2007

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Obamacare. That´s the term to describe the current state of health affairs in the U.S. However, before Obamacare, many in the U.S. had difficulty securing affordable health care.

Researchers at Penn State and Harvard University recently revealed that, in a study done from 2004 to 2007, 89 million Americans were uninsured for at least month; another 23 million lost their insurance coverage during that same time.

In the project, investigators pooled data from the U.S. Census Bureau´s Survey of Income and Program Participation. The survey collected information from individuals every fourth months and was done over a four-year period. The team of scientists studied differences in insurance coverage for people between the ages of four and sixty-four. They decided to look at data from 2004 to 2007 as it was the most recent period for four-year data. The findings are featured in a recent edition of Medical Care Research and Review.

"These findings call attention to the continuing instability and insecurity of health insurance in our country," explained Pamela Farley Short, professor of health policy and administration of Penn State, in a prepared statement. "With more than a third of all Americans under age 65 being uninsured at some point in a four-year period, it's easy to see that the problem of being uninsured is a big one that affects lots of people."

From a total of 89 million of people who were uninsured during the four-year period ,12 million were continuously uninsured; 11 million had insurance coverage at least once during that time; 11.5 million lost their insurance coverage; 14 million had a gap in their insurance coverage; and 6 million had temporary insurance coverage, but most of the time were uninsured.

"There is clear evidence that people who are uninsured use fewer services than people who have insurance; they postpone prevention and ignore serious problems because they don't feel they can afford the care," noted Short in the statement. "As a result, some even die for lack of insurance."

Those who had insurance and paid high premiums also suffered during this time.

"When people get caught without health insurance, hospitals and emergency rooms are still required to care for them," explained Short in the statement. "Someone has to pay for those services."

Based on the findings, the scientists discovered that low-income people were more likely to have varying periods of not having health insurance. The survey showed that, for 64 percent of adults and 60 percent of children who were under the 200 percent of poverty level or who had a family of income for four at $46,100/year, these individuals were uninsured for at least one month between 2004 and 2007.

"Even though low-income people are disproportionately affected by gaps in health insurance, none of us is really safe," remarked Short in the statement. "Any one of us could be afflicted with a serious health problem that could cause us to lose our jobs and our access to employment-based insurance, which is how most of us get insurance."

A variety of factors could trigger loss of health insurance, including changing or losing a job, divorcing a spouse, or aging out of parents´ health insurance program.

"We all have a stake in this problem of providing everyone with continuing access to affordable insurance," concluded Short in the statement. "Promoting stability and minimizing uninsured gaps should be high priorities as federal and state officials proceed with the implementation of national health care reforms."