MEDIA RELEASE: Poverty continues rise, loss of health insurance hits North Carolina families hard, new census data show

Poverty continues rise, loss of health insurance hits North Carolina families hard, new census data show
Rise in uninsured highlights the need to protect vital public investments in health care, say analysts

RALEIGH (Sep. 13, 2011) – More people live in poverty in America now than ever recorded before, new data show.
 
New information released today by the U.S. Census shows that the nation’s poverty rate increased for the third consecutive year. In 2010, 46.2 million people lived in poverty, the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
 
The national poverty rate increased to 15.1 percent in 2010 from 14.3 percent in 2009.
 
Preliminary state-level data show that the poverty rate in North Carolina was 17.2 percent in the years 2009 and 2010. These state figures are the most recent available data on state poverty through 2010.
On Sep. 22, the Census Bureau will release more definitive and detailed state-level data as part of the American Community Survey, a larger review.
 
The new census data also paint a grim picture of access to health care in North Carolina, and in the country at large.
 
Nearly 50 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2010. The precise number is 49.9 million. The percentage of Americans without health insurance, 16.3 percent, was not statistically different from the rate in 2009. The rate of employer-based coverage was lower in 2010 while the percentage of people covered by government health programs increased slightly.
 
Public health insurance programs have offset much of the loss of private insurance, said a health policy expert. But with insurance rates for adults remaining high, now is a critical time to protect health care reform.
 
“The high rate of people without insurance shows why we need to protect health reform,” said Adam Searing, director of the NC Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition. “It's exactly those adults who can't get affordable insurance through work that will benefit most from reform.”
 
In North Carolina, for persons under 65, the percentage of uninsured people also remained high at 19.3 percent, meaning approximately 1.6 million state residents remained uninsured in 2010.
 
“Now more than ever, it’s time to make sure people have access to health care,” said Searing. “These numbers are a wake-up call for our leaders to re-invest in the vital public programs that help keep people healthy.”
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:  Adam Searing, Project Director, North Carolina Health Access Coalition, adam@ncjustice.org,  (919) 856-2568; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.