Poverty and Insurance

Readers Sammy and Terry E Nilles suggest linking to this story:

Five years into a national economic recovery, the share of Americans living in poverty finally dropped.

The nation’s poverty rate was 12.3 percent in 2006, down from 12.6 percent a year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Median household income increased slightly, to $48,200.

The numbers provided some good economic news at a time when financial markets have been rattled by a slumping housing market. But they were tempered by an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance, from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million last year.

The last significant decline in the poverty rate came in 2000, during the Clinton administration, when it went from 11.9 percent to 11.3 percent.

The poverty rate increased every year for the next four years, peaking at 12.7 percent in 2004. It was 12.6 percent in 2005, but Census officials said that change was statistically insignificant.

The share of Americans without health insurance hit 15.8 percent last year, the highest percentage since 1998. In 2005, 15.3 percent were without insurance.

The annual increase was fueled mainly by a decline in the share of workers covered by employer-provided health insurance, said David Johnson, chief of the Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division.

The income group with the most people losing insurance was households making $75,000 or more a year, showing that the issue is not limited to the poor.

For context, I’ve had a post on how the poverty rate has evolved over time. And all I can say is… there was a good trend going from 1993 to 2000 with poverty – its a pity it came to an end. Any drop in poverty is a good thing… and if it comes after 4 years of increases and one of stagnation, its about damn time. Hopefully there will be further decreases in the years ahead, but I don’t have much faith in this President’s economy.

As to insurance… well, for context here’s my post shown the evolution of healthcare costs. Rapidly rising healthcare costs and decreasing percentages of Americans with insurance under GW is definitely not a good thing.

So to conclude… at this point in time, many, many Americans seem to be worse off in some important ways than they were when GW took office. (No doubt the same can be said about Iraqis…)