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Uninsured Population Tops 46 Million

The Census Bureau today released figures indicating that 46.3 million folks living in the U.S. lacked health care coverage in 2008, up from 45.7 million the year before. Because the country’s total population also increased over that span, the percentage of uninsured people remained unchanged at 15.4, the agency reported. But some consumer advocates warn that the millions of job losses this year likely mean that the uninsured numbers have risen dramatically since January.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocate for consumers of health care, estimates that rising unemployment has probably put the uninsured figure “close to 50 million.” For some perspective, Pollack points out that 46.3 people exceeds the population of 24 states and Washington, D.C., combined. A list of the states:

Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

There are conservatives out there who make it an occupation to blast these annual figures because they also include illegal immigrants. To be fair to them, let it be noted that 9.5 million of the 46.3 million were not citizens — a category that doesn’t distinguish between those in the country legally and illegally.

Let it also be noted that Section 246 of the House Democrats’ health reform bill would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving federal health subsidies — despite what Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) says.

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