Makin' Money

Americans without health insurance swells to 52 million

Chris Farrell Mar 16, 2011

These are truly disturbing numbers. According to the latest biennial survey on health insurance by the Commonwealth Fund, 28% of working-age adults–an estimated 52 million people–were without health insurance for at least some time last year. That’s up from 38 million or 24% in 2001.

No health insurance is a scary financial place to be for workers and their families. It’s a double whammy: Lose your job; lose your health insurance.

Yes. you can keep your health insurance for awhile under Cobra, but the monthly premiums are too high for most unemployed people.

The high cost of medical care put a strain on household finances, too, insured and uninsured. For instance, the number of people reporting medical bill problems was 53 million, up from 39 million in 2005. An astonishing 30 million were contacted by a collection agency about unpaid bills, up from 22 million in 2005. And 31 million said they had to change their way of life to pay their bills.

According to the report, most of the 52 million uninsured at some point in 2010 would have coverage in 2014 when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.