Students among most commonly uninsured

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The number of uninsured Americans rose by 2.3 million last year, and students and other low-income people have the highest uninsured rate, according to a new study released Wednesday.

The study of census data by Physicians for a National Health Program shows 39.7 million Americans are uninsured. Statistics show that the middle class, the poor, children and women make up the majority of the uninsured.

The study indicated 809,000 Arizonans 20.2 percent of the state's population lacked health insurance in 1993.

Statistics from PNHP show that the 18- to 39-year-old age group has the highest uninsured rate 22.1 percent, or 19.7 million people an increase of 3.1 percent since 1989.

Jessie Deyoe, University of Arizona student health administrative associate, said 5,600 students enrolled in the campus Partners insurance plan during the fall semester.

While that is only 15.9 percent of the student body, Deyoe said many students are covered by their parents' policies or have their own insurance. No definite figures on those students are available.

Ruth Schaller, president of the Arizona Health Care Campaign, said students are often in a situation where they are in a low income bracket and not covered by their parents' insurance.

"They (students) work part time and have no insurance benefits, and are not able to pay for medical care," Schaller said.

"The young adult risk is very high for accidental injury," she said. "Those can be very expensive."

In response, Arizonans have recently asserted they want health care reform.

The Gallup Arizona Health Care Poll 1994, conducted by the Gallup Organization in November 1994, showed that 76 percent of Arizonans believe the state should adopt its own health care reform plan.

PNHP and the Arizona Health Care Campaign advocate a single-payer health care system.

"The middle class is rapidly losing its health coverage," said David Himmelstein, national spokesman for PNHP and Harvard Medical School associate professor. "They have no safety net ... and if Republican proposals to slash AFDC/Medicaid are passed, millions of additional women and children will fall into the ranks of the uninsured."

"The health care crisis is much greater than we thought. The 2.3 million increase in the uninsured nationwide is 2.3 million more reasons why we need health care reform," Schaller said.

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