White House: The new numbers — health insurance reform cannot wait in Wisconsin

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new analysis of last week’s U.S. Census numbers regarding the uninsured. The results are sobering and confirm that health insurance reform cannot wait another year. Nationwide, the number of uninsured increased from 39.8 million in 2001 to 46.3 million in 2008.

“These numbers only serve to further confirm a reality that far too many American families live with every day,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Our health care system has reached a breaking point. The status quo is unsustainable, and continuing to delay reform is not an option.”

The analysis below underscores the urgency of health insurance reform for residents of Wisconsin.

* The status quo is not an option. The number of uninsured in Wisconsin has increased from 390,000 in 2001 to 535,000 in 2008. The percent of non-elderly adults without insurance increased from 9.9% to 13%. And this number only considers people who are uninsured for an entire year – it does not include people in Wisconsin who have more recently lost coverage through the recession, or who had shorter gaps in their coverage.

* Private coverage is eroding under the status quo. The percentage of people with employer-based coverage decreased from 81.7% of the population in 2001 to 74.3% in 2008.

* More workers are being left without protection from health care costs. Too many workers in Wisconsin do not have health coverage, at 361,000 in 2008. And the proportion of workers from Wisconsin without insurance has increased, from 9.1% in 2001 to 12.3% in 2008.

* The problem of the uninsured is a problem that crosses income brackets. The new Census numbers also drive home the fact that everyone in Wisconsin is vulnerable to losing health insurance. An additional 30,000 people from high-income households are now uninsured.

“In states across the country we’ve seen the health care coverage situation go from bad to worse,” Secretary Sebelius added. “And it’s clear that losing insurance isn’t a problem that plagues only the poor or the unemployed – it could happen to anyone.”

For additional information on health insurance reform, visit http://www.healthreform.gov/healthcarestatus.html and click on your state.