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August 28, 2007

One-fifth of Californians lack health insurance, report says

A record number of Californians - an estimated 6.7 million adults and children that account for nearly one in five of the state's residents - went without health care insurance last year, according to new figures released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationwide, about 47 million Americans lack health coverage, including 8.7 million children - also record numbers, the report said.

The estimates are part of an annual analysis of poverty and health care in the United States, which also showed that median household income nationwide rose seven-tenths of one point in 2006 to $48,201 - still below the peak of $49,244 reached in 1999.

Many public policy experts and elected officials were especially concerned about the health care data, especially for children because the number of uninsured kids grew for the second year in a row.

"The trend I've been seeing is the growing number of children in middle class families who lack coverage," said Jim Keddy, director of PICO California, part of a national coalition of faith-based community groups that advocates for the poor.

"As health care costs go up, more and more families are either not being offered health insurance through work or what they are offered costs too much."

The new Census estimates show that about 816,000 children in California lack health care - which means that most of them receive medical services at hospital emergency rooms and community clinics.

After months of talking about the issue, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are increasingly focused on ideas for extending coverage to more Californians who lack insurance.

The governor has proposed a plan aimed at covering all Californians without health insurance by having workers, employers and care providers share the cost of expanded coverage. He would also mandate that residents have insurance.

Democratic leaders have proposed a plan that would cover only working families that now lack coverage, with the lion's share of the costs being paid by employers.

Another plan pending before the Legislature would create a single-payer program where all residents are covered under a plan managed by the state and funded through taxes.

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Posted by healthinsurance at August 28, 2007 10:39 PM

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