More Americans are going without health insurance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of Americans without health insurance increased by almost 4 million from 2008 to the first quarter of 2010, Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a media conference Tuesday announcing the results of the CDC’s annual National Health Interview Survey.

Overall, the amount of adults aged 18 to 64 who told the CDC they were without health insurance for at least part of the prior year increased from 46 million in 2008 to 49.9 million in the first quarter of 2010, reflecting a trend that has been going on for at least the past ten years.

“While public coverage provided some safety net for adults, it wasn't enough to offset the loss of private coverage,” Frieden said. “Private insurance of adults fell by 9%, and although public insurance increased by about 5% as a net, this led to an increase of uninsurance from the 18 to 64-year-olds to 22%.”

According to the CDC, medical coverage for those 65 and over has remained at a stable high, thanks to Medicare.

The National Health Interview Survey includes interviews with nearly 90,000 people from around 35,000 households. The survey has been conducted annually for more than 50 years.

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Frieden said that the findings help debunk several common misconceptions about health insurance, the first being that only the poor have trouble getting covered.

“Half of the uninsured are over the poverty level,” Frieden said, adding that one in three adults under 65 in the middle income range - which is between $44,000 and $65,000 a year for a family of four - were uninsured at some point in 2010.
Additionally, the CDC found, it’s not only young, healthy individuals who are going without insurance. More than two out of five individuals who were uninsured at some point during the past year had one or more chronic diseases.

“This is based on just a partial list of chronic diseases, so the actual number may be higher than that,” Frieden said.

The report found that people who are uninsured often forego treatment due to costs, which can aggravate chronic conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes, lead to worse health, increase long-term health care costs and even cause premature death.

More people will surely go without health insurance as costs continue to rise. Check out this MainStreet article on why insurance premiums are increasing.

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