Number of uninsured Americans soars

The Census Bureau reports that the rate of uninsured Americans was 16.7 percent in 2009, up from 15.4 percent in 2008. This was one of the largest single year increases since the Census starting tracking the figure in 1987.

The jump in uninsured last year reflects the worsening recession, which started in 2008. The unemployment rate rose to 9.3 percent in 2009 from 5.8 percent in 2008. The report also found that nearly a third of Americans are now covered by government insurance, mainly Medicare and Medicaid.

The health law approved in March mandates that nearly all Americans have health insurance. It will provide coverage to 32 million more Americans starting in 2014 as the state-federal Medicaid program is expanded and lower-income people get government subsidies to buy coverage through new insurance exchanges or marketplaces.

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, September 17, 2010)