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WASHINGTON—The Census Bureau next month will release its annual report on the number of people in the United States without health insurance, and the report is expected to show a sharp rise in the uninsured population in 2009.
Health insurance coverage tends to shrink during recessions as more companies go out of business and terminate their group health insurance plans.
The report will be released Sept. 16.
In 2008, the number of uninsured increased to 46.3 million, up from 45.7 million in 2007, while the percentage of the population without coverage was 15.4%, which was not statistically different from the 2007 uninsured rate of 15.3%.
The 2008 increase in the number of uninsured was solely attributable to the decline in employment-based coverage, which continued its free fall. In 2008, 58.5% of the population had employment-based coverage, down from 59.3% in 2007 and 59.7% in 2006. As recently as 2000, 64.2% of the U.S. population had employment-based health insurance coverage and since then, public programs, such as Medicaid, have failed to offset the decline in employment-based coverage.
The new health care reform law is intended to sharply reduce the number of uninsured. But the most significant provision to expand coverage—one that will provide federal premium subsidies to the lower-income uninsured—doesn’t kick in until 2014.