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Nearly 50 million Americans uninsured in early 2010

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 22, 2010

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The number of Americans who went without health insurance last year increased to a record 49.9 million by the first quarter of 2010. That's about 1 million more than 2009 figures and 4 million more than in 2008, according to estimates released Nov. 9 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its fifth Vital Signs report.

The chronically uninsured -- those who went without health insurance for more than 12 months -- also increased substantially, from 27.5 million in 2008 to 30.4 million in the first quarter of 2010, the report found.

"The public insurance safety net has more than protected children, but while public coverage provided some safety net for adults, it wasn't enough to offset the loss of private coverage," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. Many of these uninsured people have chronic health conditions. For example, of the nearly 50 million people who were uninsured at some point, 15 million had high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma.

The CDC estimate is based on responses to the National Health Interview Survey, in-person interviews of 90,000 individuals in about 35,000 households. The Vital Signs report is available online (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/11/22/gvbf1122.htm.

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