People waiting outside of emergency room patient drop-off at a hospital
People waiting outside of emergency room patient drop-off at a hospital - 
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Helen Palmer: Consumer group Families USA crunched the numbers. Its director, Ron Pollack, claims that more than a third of adults were uninsured last year.

Ron Pollack: There were 89.6 million people -- almost 90 million people -- who were uninsured at some point over the last two years.

The problem with the Census is the only people it calls uninsured are those who had no coverage the entire year.

That's why Families USA's number's so much bigger. In five of the most populous states -- like Texas, Florida and California -- over 45 percent of adults had spells of uninsurance, mostly lasting six months or longer, and most of them were working.

Pollack: Seventy percent of them are in families where the breadwinner is working full-time. So this is a story about working families who don't get coverage in the work place and simply can't afford it on their own.

Pollack says this spotty coverage is costing us all. Families without insurance typically delay needed treatment, and can end up in the emergency room -- the most expensive care of all.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.