How many people are uninsured? The answer depends on the question. Typically, the established Census number for California is around 6.5 million. That’s what came a few weeks ago
There’s also the California Health Interview Survey from UCLA: they have a similar number for those who are uninsured at some point in a given year. The modelers, however, use a different number from that data: 5 million, or the number who are uninsured at any given time.
But how many people experience uninsurance over the course of two years? In fact, it’s a much bigger number. As my colleague Hanh indicates, Families USA and the Lewin Group put out a report today, using Census data, that shows that nearly 13 million Californians had a gap in coverage over the past two years.
* 40.5% of Non-Elderly Californians Were Uninsured During 2006-2007
* 12,987,000 Californians Were Uninsured At Some Point Over the Past Two Years
* Two-Thirds (65%)-8,557,000–Were Uninsured for Six Months or More
This study is unique in that it quantifies the people who experience uninsurance over two years, rather than one year, or at a single point in time. In this way, it shows how our current health system leaves many more people at risk than is commonly assumed–and that there is potentially a bigger base for reform.
This study shows why even people with coverage are concerned it is not going to be there for them when they need it. That’s why expanding health coverage is so important: Many of the reforms on the table here in California would reduce these gaps, and provide more security, by expanding group coverage, and reforming the individual market.