Number of uninsured grows

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Tomorrow the Census Bureau will release its latest snapshot of poverty, income and health insurance. Analysts expect little income growth for the average American. They also expect a lot more poor people. And as Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, the numbers without health insurance could rise sharply too.


HELEN PALMER: Health policy experts say the number of uninsured people typically grows by about a million a year because of population increases.

But this year could see more of an uptick, says St Louis University health economist Timothy McBride.

TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: There's been a general deterioration of the employer insurance markets and there's been some problems with Medicaid changes.

McBride says many fewer employers offer health insurance now. 69% did in 2000 but last year only 60% offered coverage.

That's partly because the cost of health care's rising about 10% a year. It eats up about one sixth of US GDP.

Companies increasingly push more cost-sharing onto workers, and more employees opt out.

MCBRIDE: It's getting to the point where employers and employees are saying they can't afford it.

The federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research says nearly 50 million Americans went without health coverage during the first half of last year.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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