Study says 9.3 million lost health insurance coverage during recession

By Maryalene LaPonsie on January 4th, 2012

Two recent reports provide a glimpse into the evolving state of health insurance in the U.S.

According to a working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), 9.3 million Americans lost their medical insurance during the recent recession. However, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) says the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has helped 2.5 million young adults find health insurance coverage.

Recession results in more being unemployed and uninsured

Using data from the Census Bureau and monthly unemployment statistics, the NBER examined the link between employment and health insurance coverage. The study authors determined 9.3 million Americans lost their medical insurance during the 2007-2009 recession. That figure is nine times greater than the number of people who lost health insurance during the previous recession in 2001.

The NBER found that for each percentage point unemployment increased, the number of uninsured rose by roughly 1.67 percent. White, college-educated men between the ages of 50 and 64 were most likely to lose health insurance coverage as unemployment rose.

The study did not find a direct correlation between unemployment and health insurance rates for women. However, rising unemployment rates did result in an increased probability that children would be covered by public health insurance plans rather than private medical insurance.

Health insurance rates for young adults on the rise

Although the number of uninsured rose during the recession, HHS says health reform legislation is making medical insurance more accessible to young adults. Under a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, young adults through age 26 can remain on their parent's group health insurance plan regardless of the young adult's employment or marital status.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don't have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press statement.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics indicates that 2.5 million young adults who currently have coverage through parental health insurance plans would be uninsured if not for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In addition, during the first three months of 2011, the number of insured young adults was up 1 million from the year before.


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