Uninsured Americans Make Little Progress in Getting Health Coverage

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health insuranceUninsured Americans are making little progress in securing health coverage as costs rise and fewer employers foot the bill for health insurance, Gallup said Tuesday.

About 16.6% of Americans didn't have health insurance in October, up from 16.1% at the beginning of 2009, Gallup reported today, citing a poll of 30,000 adults it conducted with Healthways. Fewer than 15% of Americans were uninsured at the beginning of 2008, just as the recession was starting.

"Several major provisions of the new health care law, which could significantly affect coverage in America, were initiated little more than a month ago," said Gallup, alluding to policies such as allowing children as old as 26 to stay on their parents' health-insurance plans. "Gallup trends reveal, however, that these new policies have yet to influence the health coverage situation for the average American, although the changes may take some time to permeate the population."

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While the Obama administration recently signed a health care reform bill designed to cut the number of uninsured Americans, most of those policies don't go into effect until 2014.

Meanwhile, health care costs continue to rise. Aon Corp. (AON) said in August that U.S. health-care costs will increase about 11% within the next year because of factors such as increased prescription costs and the effects of the health care reform bill.

In September, the Kaiser Family Foundation said that U.S. family health-coverage payments will increase 14% this year as higher deductibles offset the effect of relatively stable insurance-premium rates.

With such rising costs, fewer companies are providing health care for their employees, according to the Gallup-Healthways report. About 46% of U.S. adults are covered under an employer-funded plan, down from 49.2% in 2008, Gallup said Tuesday.
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