More middle income families going without health insurance

The Sacramento BeeDecember 17, 2010 

As more Americans lose health coverage because of unemployment, the latest snapshot of the uninsured reveals a grim picture: It's not just the poor and unemployed who now go without health insurance.

About a third of California's uninsured had family incomes of more than $50,000 a year in 2009, according to the California HealthCare Foundation.

Indeed, the percentage of uninsured among families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually has nearly doubled over the past decade.

"It's exactly the trend that's been driving the conversation around health care reform," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a consumer health advocacy group.

"As this has become a real crisis in the middle class, it required a bigger fix - which is why the big push for a federal health law," Wright said.

Even as the country begins rolling out President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March, the number of Americans without medical insurance continues to grow - to an estimated 50 million nationwide and 7.2 million in California.

Robbin Gaines, a senior program officer with the foundation, said she couldn't fully explain the increase in the uninsured, but said joblessness is certainly one reason.

"As people lose their jobs, they are also losing their health insurance," she said.

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