FamiliesUSA released a new report today showing that 89.6 million Americans under age 65, or one in three people, lacked health insurance for at least one month from 2006 through 2007. For Ohio, these numbers showed 2,936,000 people in the state under age 65 without insurance for at least a month during the two year period. (Source: Wrong Direction report, page 3, FamiliesUSA, PDF download.)
Now, there has been some confusion about these numbers, especially in light of the recent U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), which showed Ohio's 3-year average uninsured rate from 2004 to 2006 was 10.7%, or 1,206,000 Ohioans. That's in addition to the Census CPS numbers for 2006 alone, which showed Ohio with an overall uninsured rate of 10.1%, or 1,138,000 Ohioans.
So how many uninsured people are there in Ohio? 1.2 million? 1.3 million? 2.9 million?
While these different surveys and the methods they use all have their own unique limitations, each of them appear to be valid. In 2005, the US Census showed 1,288,000 Ohioans under 65 without insurance for "any time during the year." (Source: 2005 CPS Survey.) In 2006, those numbers fell to 1,138,000 Ohioans under 65 without insurance for "any time during the year." (Source: 2006 CPS Survey.) The key factor in both of those numbers is that they represent people without insurance for the entire year.
The new FamiliesUSA survey is based "mainly on Census Bureau data" (in their words) but looks for people who lacked insurance for at least one month anytime during a two year period. That number will obviously be much larger than the Census numbers showing people who lack insurance for an entire year. In fact, the FamiliesUSA survey states less than 2/3rds of the people who lacked insurance for that one month period also lacked it for 6 months; for this 6-month time period, their report says 1,739,000 Ohioans lacked insurance. And the number of Ohioans who lack insurance for nine months or a year will be even lower, likely nearing the original Census estimates above. Those differences that still remain probably come from the different types of survey methods used.
One interesting result from the report is the breakdown of how many months people lacked insurance and their percent of the total uninsured. (Source: Wrong Direction report, page 4, FamiliesUSA, PDF download.) Of the 89.6 million people in the U.S. under age 65 whom the report states lacked insurance for some time during 2006 through 2007, 36% or 32,381,000 people lacked insurance for between 1 and 5 months. Only 19.4% of these uninsured, or 17,360,000 people, lacked insurance for between 13 and 23 months.