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Big Uptick in the Uninsured

By Cindy Zeldin

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released new figures on health insurance coverage in the United States. According to their estimates, 50.7 million Americans were uninsured in 2009, up from 46.3 million in 2008. Here in Georgia, nearly 1.8 million of us—almost 1 in 5 Georgians—are uninsured. In raw numbers, only four states in the entire nation have larger numbers of individuals without health insurance than Georgia. The primary driver of this increase was a rapid decline in employment-based health insurance coverage during the economic downturn.


The recently enacted Affordable Care Act takes square aim at this problem: it establishes clear and consumer-friendly standards for private insurance plans, creates new pathways to affordable, private coverage for individuals who aren’t offered insurance at work, and expands the Medicaid program. While the law will be implemented in phases between now and 2014, these staggering figures on the rising tide of uninsurance demonstrate the need for renewed commitment and collaboration between our state’s policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates to leverage the opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act to increase coverage, expand access to care, and ultimately improve the health of our state and its citizens.


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