September 12th, 2009
09:12 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama: More uninsured than you think

WASHINGTON ( - In an effort to cast health care reform as helpful to more Americans, President Obama on Saturday pounded home a new statistic: Nearly 50% of people under 65 have gone without coverage for at least one month over a decade.

"It can happen to anyone," Obama said in his weekly address. "In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they'll go without health insurance - not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law - they won't."

The new figure comes from a Treasury Department analysis of survey data collected by the University of Michigan. The data tracked health insurance coverage through phone interviews with some 17,000 individuals from 1997 to 2006.

It appears to be the first such analysis of its kind to look at the population of uninsured Americans over a lengthy period of time.

Treasury's analysis also found that roughly two out of five Americans, under 65, go without health insurance for at least six months over a ten-year period. And a little more than one out of three go without insurance for a year over the course of a decade.

"This report is an indictment of the status quo," a senior Treasury official said. "It makes it clear that the status quo is a plan that would allow half of Americans some spell that they'd go without insurance, and a significant percentage of them would go without insurance for over a year."

The report is the latest in a week-long barrage by the White House to turn up the pressure for health care reform. Obama started the recent campaign with a Labor Day speech to AFL-CIO members in Cincinnati, culminating in an address to Congress on Wednesday night.

White House staffers have been meeting with Democrats and Republicans, hammering out concern about different parts of bills. The main goal of the legislation is to get more people covered while reining in health care cost increases.

So far, four main bills are in play. Observers have been waiting for the powerful Senate Finance Committee to release its bill. The panel, headed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has been scrambling to get bipartisan consensus.

Baucus told Democratic leaders that he will unveil a bill on Wednesday, congressional aides said on Friday. The committee will start publicly debating the details of the bill in the following week.

The parties remain bitterly divided. In the Republican weekly address on Saturday, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Obama's health care proposals are too costly. He said the president "should work with Republicans on a bottom-up solution that the American people can support."

-CNN congressional producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. mk

    the count of uninsured includes Native Americans who have free health care and don't need insurance. redo the count

    September 12, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. Keith in Austin

    He's planting seeds to cover illegals.

    If the majority of this illgotten plan will be paid for by eliminating waste and abuse w/in the current Medicaid/Medicare System, why not fix that problem first before creating another bloated mismanaged government bureaucracy? ANSWER: It's all about BIGGER government, higher taxes and creating more people completely dependant on government to ensure votes and Democratic political power! Informed Americans see right through the charade.

    September 12, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. katiec

    I'm sure there are many, many more uninsured than the 57 million figure. With job loss, insurance companies cancelling thousands of policies daily and unaffordable premiums the number has increased tremendously and will continue to increase.
    Yet, we have politicians who vote NO for health care reform regardless of the circumstances or our countries desperate need
    for it.

    September 12, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Denna

    Senator Cornyn: President Obama has been trying to work with the Republicans. And what did he get? Disrespect on national television. Rep. Wilson would never had done what he did if President Obama was a white man – and yes I am white and I supported Barack Obama in his run. Disrespect for the office of POTUS is inexcusable, no matter WHO the president is. Remember, he is president because the majority of Americans voted for him. I say that President Obama should cut his losses and move on with his health care reform. I understand that the Republicans didn't like medicare or social security either. Well America is still standing despite these "socialist programs".

    September 12, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  5. Theresa

    Because in your twenty's, alot opt out because you think you are invincible. This is another poor argument by the president. I am also tired of nobody talking about the priorities that many people choose. I have often driven through the poorer sections of town, where the majority are on welfare, but yet have a satellite TV. Alot of the same people also have cell phones. I'm sorry but that is about choices. People need to take responsibility and put their families first. I don't have a problem helping people who need it, I have a problem helping people who refuse to get a job.

    September 12, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. ran

    Single payer non-profit universal health care will take care of us all.

    Do it!

    September 12, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Keith in Austin

    The Senate Finance Committee plans to impose a multi-billion dollar levy in additional taxes to all Medical Device Manufacturers based on their domestic sales. If legislated, the end result will be more lost jobs, cuts in R and D, and higher costs to Patients/Hospitals.

    Investments in life-saving technologies will truly suffer. When will people wake up and realize that Gocernment's stifeling of Capitalism with higher taxes and Socialistic programs hurts ALL OF US in the long run? Why is Industry being demonized? Why is the pursuit of profit seemingly unacceptable now?

    As Margaret Thatcher so aptly stated; "Socialism never works because sooner or later it runs out of other peoples money." Brilliant!!!

    September 12, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Chris

    What Obam and his followers can't seem to get through their thick skulls is that the American taxpayer will pay for healthcare for anyone on a temporary basis. A week, a month, a year, even a couple of years while someone gets back on their feet is something we all might need and will support. We're simply tired of raising babies on welfare, and he has his way, healthcare for their entire lives while we all handle the stress of working to provide for our own family plus someone who doesn't plan on working. And this is not intended for the honestly handicapped people even though some of them do work. It is aimed directly at those families who look forward to that welfare check every month while they sit in their house watching television.

    September 12, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    No more delay...they had decades to fix from the bottom up! And this plan is to help people at the bottom!

    September 12, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Mike in SA

    So these people had to wait a whole month to have their flu shot insured? Obviously this is good cause to create over $1 trillion in additional deficit spending over the next 20 years on a government takeover of 1/6 of our economy.

    It would take most people a month to pick a new plan if they "lost" coverage anyway. The reason I say "lost" is that I would bet my last dollar that most of this 50% was caused by voluntary job movement.

    September 12, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Greg Hodges

    Anybody who does not understand the vital need for reform of the health care system in the U.S. must be living under a rock; or worse working for the stinking insurance companies making billions with the status-quo. It is insane to believe a person should face the cruel choice between bankruptcy or doing without health care. It is not only cruel but barbaric. Shame on anyone who tries to frighten the public with insane lies about losing your doctor or pulling the plug on grandma. This is just nuts; and anyone who believes it should see a psychiatrist to get their head read.

    September 12, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. Julie

    I work in a large regional hospital and i know our "red ink" is growing faster than the number of people without insurance. As more people can't pay for healthcare but hospitals are legally bound to provide care regardless of payment, I think you'll see more hospitals loosing ground financially and an increase in closures. Then where will anyone go for healthcare?

    September 12, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Dave

    So design a "major medical" safety net that covers short term disruptions of insurance for American citizens. Don't tear the whole private system down (excluding the Congress' own plan of course.)

    September 12, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. sensible Cape Coral FL

    Why don't all of these uninsured people stand up as the stupid Tea-Baggers do and demand notice? God knows there are enough of them to make a statement. I have adequate insurance but I'd be only too happy to join them.

    September 12, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. D. Tree

    All these people who say they are happy with their insurance company will be crying and bankrupt when they get dropped because some Insurance Bureaucrat wants his bonus.

    September 12, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Jo

    I went without health insurance for years as a student, and then even longer while trying to find a job with benefits. I was a very hardworking student (from a poor family). And I definitely earned being able to see a doctor if I needed medical help but couldn't anyway.

    MANY hardworking people don't have insurance in the US and it should be a crime.

    One problem is that most of the people making these decisions are super wealthy. They don't want to take a small punch for the 90% of us who have earned better than what we have now.

    The US has been wasting money for way too long on a failed medical system.

    September 12, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. bella

    I am pleased that President Obama has spoken up about the real fact there are many more unisured than we can ever imagine! This mis-information out there about this has been completely false and inaccurate.

    September 12, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. m jeff

    When the GOP says start over on reform they mean wait another fifty years. We don't need anymore of their stall, scare, and hate tactics.

    September 12, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Barry In Las Vegas

    While Obama is quick to talk about how many people are becoming unisured every day – he doesn't say that the main reason they are losing their insurance is because they lost their jobs – you know the 3 million new jobs the Obama stimulas was supposed to produce.

    He should get to work on fixing the economy instead of running around the country trying to sell an insurance program that is going to put is further in to debt.

    September 12, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |