Number of Uninsured Reaches Record High

As the cost of health insurance continues to skyrocket, so do the ranks of people without coverage. There were more uninsured people in 2006 than ever before, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Forty-seven million Americans didn’t have health coverage last year, up from 44.8 million in 2005.

Based on a three-year average between 2004-2006, 16.6 percent of Coloradans were without health insurance. That’s a higher rate than in 35 other states. But Colorado’s rate is in line with other Western states. The region came in third out of four areas of the country for its rate of uninsured residents, with 17.9 percent. Only Southern states had higher rates overall.

And children faired just as poorly. The survey found 8.7 million (11.7 percent) of the nation’s children were uninsured in 2006, up from 8 million (10.9 percent) in 2005. The increase is likely to play into the debate over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the reauthorization of which lawmakers in Washington and President Bush are fighting over.

In Colorado, the problem of the uninsured is being addressed by the 208 Commission, which is evaluating proposals for health care reform and will present its recommendations to the Legislature in January.

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Kerri Rebresh

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