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CU statement regarding U.S. Census Bureau numbers on Americans without health insurance

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Statement by Consumers Union regarding new U.S. Census Bureau numbers on Americans without health insurance

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Census Bureau today released new figures on the number of Americans without health insurance. Gail Shearer, Director of Health Policy Analysis for the Washington Office of Consumers Union, commented on the new figures:
“In light of Congress’ refusal to take steps to increase health insurance coverage, the new Census data bring a little bit of good news. There has been a modest decrease in the number of Americans without health insurance. The strong economy has achieved something that Congress failed to do – reverse the trend of growing numbers of uninsured people.
“But the new census figures are also a reminder that Congress has important, unfinished business as lawmakers head toward adjournment. It is simply shameful that this country, at a time of unprecedented prosperity and record budget surpluses, leaves well over forty million Americans — including ten million children — without health insurance.
“A slight decrease in the number of uninsured has not changed the percentage of the poor who are uninsured. As in 1998, the poor were uninsured at twice the rate of the non-poor (32 percent in 1998 and1999). Our healthcare system does not do enough to make health insurance affordable to the poor and people with moderate income. Paying for healthcare continues to place a disproportionate burden on the poor and middle class,” as Consumers Union found in its report The Healthcare Divide – Unfair Financial Burdens (August 10, 2000).
“The public should take little comfort in these new figures, since the statistics do not tell the story of human suffering that is behind each uninsured person in this country. Not having health insurance often means not having necessary medical care, ” as reported in the story “Second-Class Medicine” in Consumer Reports.
For more information contact: Gail Shearer, 202-462-6262