The number of uninsured Americans is projected to increase by at least 6.9 million by 2010 — meaning 19.2 percent of nonelderly Americans would be uninsured. This is an increase of 2.0 percentage points from 2007, say Todd Gilmer and Richard Kronick of the University of California, San Diego, in a paper published May 28 on the Health Affairs Web site [2-week free access]. Gilmer and Kronick estimate that the number of uninsured Americans will reach 52 million in 2010.

Recession Impact

The current economic downturn is partially reflected in this projection because sluggish growth in personal income for American workers is a key factor driving the results. However, because this model is based on extrapolating from uninsurance rates among workers, it does not directly take into account the effect on uninsurance of the significant job losses that occur during recessions and that have been particularly pronounced in this recession.  Said Gilmer:

“Because of the number of Americans who have lost their jobs or will lose them in the coming months, the increase in the number of uninsured people is, if anything, likely to exceed the projections in this paper. In the recently enacted economic stimulus legislation, Congress provided a 65 percent subsidy toward continuation coverage for a subset of laid-off workers. That will help, but our research demonstrates once again the importance of more comprehensive action to extend adequate and affordable health coverage to all Americans.”