More than 45 million U.S. residents didn't have health insurance during the first nine months of last year, according to survey findings released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even more people, 57.5 million, were uninsured for at least part of the 12 months before being polled.
The overall uninsured rate declined slightly from 2011, according to the CDC, which polled 80,618 people between January and September of last year. Just 6.6 percent of children lacked health insurance at the time of the survey, compared to 20.8 percent of adults aged 18 to 64. Virtually everyone 65 and older is covered by Medicare.
In addition to determining whether a person was uninsured at the time they were interviewed or at any point during the prior 12 months, the CDC also found that 33.8 million people had been uninsured for more than a year.
Not surprisingly, people with lower incomes were more likely to be uninsured. Forty-one percent of people with incomes below the poverty level -- which was $11,170 for a single person last year -- and 39 percent of those earning between the poverty level and twice that amount had no health insurance at the time they were interviewed, compared to 11.4 percent of people with higher incomes.
President Barack Obama's health care reform law aims to extend health insurance coverage to a large portion of the uninsured. According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care reform will reduce the number of uninsured people by 27 million between next year and 2023.
Obamacare targets its assistance to the poor and near-poor who are least likely to have health care coverage. The law will provide Medicaid coverage to those with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level ($15,282 for a single person this year) -- unless they live in a state that opts out of the Medicaid expansion. People who earn between the poverty level and four times that amount will be eligible for tax credits for private health insurance.