||March 31, 2009
Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Bob Meissner, Deputy Director of Communications
Bryan Fisher, Press Secretary
New Report Finds 1.7 Million Tennesseans Were Uninsured at Some Point in 2007-2008
32.4 Percent of Tennessee’s Non-Elderly Residents Were Uninsured for One Month or More in 2007-2008
Washington, D.C.—Approximately 1.7 million Tennesseans—32.4 percent of residents under age 65—were uninsured at some point in time during 2007-2008, according to a report released today by the health consumer organization Families USA. In fact, almost 1.3 million of those uninsured Tennesseans, 72.9 percent of the total, were uninsured for six months or more during that time.
The situation is a reflection of what is happening nationwide. Approximately 86.7 million Americans—one out of three people (33.1 percent) under 65 years of age—were uninsured at some point during 2007-2008. The Families USA report is an essential supplement to commonly-used Census Bureau data, such as the 45.7 million people deemed to be uninsured for the entire 2007 calendar year.
“The huge number of people without health coverage in Tennessee is worse than an epidemic,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “At this point, almost everyone in the country has had a family member, neighbor, or friend who was uninsured—and that’s why meaningful health care reform can no longer be kept on the back burner.”
The Families USA report reveals additional important demographic information about uninsured individuals in Tennessee:
- Three-quarters of Tennessee’s uninsured, or 74.7 percent, were in working families, working full- or part-time.
- More than half, or 50.1 percent, of those individuals and families in Tennessee with incomes below twice the poverty level—$42,400 of annual income for a family of four in 2008—went without health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.
- In addition, more than one out of five, or 22.0 percent, of those individuals and families in Tennessee with incomes at or above twice the poverty level—$42,400 of annual income for a family of four in 2008—went without health insurance at some point in 2007-2008.
- While whites accounted for the largest number of uninsured in Tennessee, Hispanics/Latinos and African Americans were much more likely to be uninsured than whites: 63 percent of Hispanics/Latinos and 35.7 percent of African Americans went without health insurance in 2007-2008, compared to 29.6 percent of whites.
“These startling numbers clearly document the seriousness of the problem and demonstrate what happens when a problem is ignored for too long,” Pollack said. “It’s important to note, however, that Congress and the President have already begun to address this serious issue by extending coverage to 4 million more children.
“The actions of Congress and the President were an important down payment for health care reform, and they offer the promise that all Americans will one day have access to high-quality, affordable health care.”
"Families USA's new report reveals the shocking number of uninsured Tennesseans and Americans, and it reinforces the urgent need for immediate action, " said Congressman Steve Cohen. "As the Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which has jurisdiction over matters pertaining to bankruptcy, I know that the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is the rising cost of health care. There is no reason that Americans should have to file for bankruptcy as a result of getting sick, but that is happening every day in this country. Any effort to revive our economy must include comprehensive health care reform because there is no greater obstacle to sustained, enduring prosperity in this country. I commend Mr. Pollack for his tireless work to bring these issues to light, and I will continue to work with him and Congressman Jim Cooper to ensure that all Americans have adequate health care. Families USA's new report reveals the shocking number of uninsured Tennesseans and Americans, and it reinforces the urgent need for immediate action."
The Families USA report was based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, as well as the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey used by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. The data were compiled with the assistance of The Lewin Group, a distinguished health policy and data consulting firm.
Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan and advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
1201 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1100 · Washington, DC 20005
202-628-3030 · Email: email@example.com · www.familiesusa.org