Significant numbers of individuals in the United States are without health insurance and have limited access to health care. US Census Bureau data from 2002 showed 43.6 million uninsured residents. This represents a one-year increase of 2.4 million uninsured individuals, or an increase from 14.6% to 15.2% of the population.
Estimates of individuals living at or below the official poverty rate rose from 11.7% of the population in 2001 to 12.1% (34.6 million) in 2002. The American South remains the region with the highest poverty rate - 13.8% of the population. Of those living in poverty, an estimated 30.4% have no health insurance. Approximately 2.3 million Georgians (16.3% of the state’s population) were without health insurance in 2002.
In the same year, 8.5 million children nationwide, or 11.6% of all children, were uninsured. An estimated 334,140 children in Georgia were without health insurance in 2001-2002, representing 14% of the pediatric population (Kaiser Family Foundation).
Some populations may be more at risk than others for not having insurance. Hispanics were the most likely of any ethnic group to be without insurance (32.4% uninsured nationally and 40% uninsured in Georgia). Foreign-born populations are also likely to be uninsured (33.4% uninsured in recent census data).
The combinations of poverty and lack of health insurance significantly limit access to health care. Language and cultural differences also contribute to barriers to health care.
(All data US Census Bureau 2002 unless otherwise noted; see http://www.census.gov/)