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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Health Economics Information Resources: A Self-Study Course

Module 2 - Sources and Characteristics of Information Relating to Health Care Financing in the US

Access to health care

The final problem area that should be mentioned is that of access. In the U.S. health care system, millions of Americans slip between the cracks and have no health care coverage at all. The chance of being uninsured varies by race and ethnicity, age and employment status.

Number of uninsured over time

This table shows the number of uninsured Americans (in millions) between 1995 and 2001.

Year
Number
1995 40.6
1996 41.7
1997 43.4
1998 44.3
1999 39.3
2000 38.7
2001 41.2

Those who had no health insurance in 2000 accounted for 38.7 million people total in 2000.

Although the number of uninsured dropped from 1998 to 2000, that number has risen again with the downturn in the economy to 41.2 million.

12% of all children in U.S. under age 18 – 9.2 million children – had no health insurance in 2000-2001.

Health care reform

Nevertheless, health care reform is, and has been, a hot issue for some time and is likely to remain so until there has been additional progress in resolving some of the basic issues that have been mentioned. Americans are conscious of, and troubled by, the flaws with the system of providing health care and health care reform is often on the minds of those who work in health care and for the government.

It is likely that health care researchers, policy makers, decision makers, as well as the general public – who are taxpayers and consumers - will continue to seek improvements in health care and that, in doing so, they may approach you for assistance in identifying and retrieving health care expenditure and related data. To that end it is important to take a closer look at major funders of the health care system and at some of the data available.

 

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