RWJF Statement on 2009 Census Bureau Estimate of 46.3 Million Uninsured

“The federal government today announced that the number of Americans living without health insurance has increased, with more than 46.3 million people in the U.S. going without any health coverage last year. It’s important to keep in mind while the Census is the most commonly cited estimate, there are multiple surveys with differing methodologies that estimate the number of uninsured individuals in this country. All of the surveys however show that the number of Americans who don’t have health insurance coverage is large and that it’s growing over time. With health reform dominating the news, it’s an important time to remember that tens of millions of Americans lack coverage and are forced to delay or skip medical care because of it.

“For too many working Americans and their families, the health care status quo is a prescription for trouble. The evidence on the consequences of being uninsured is stronger than ever. People without insurance do not get the care they need, and too many people live sicker and die younger as a result. Earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine released a report confirming these facts. The report also confirmed that insured adults in communities with high rates of uninsured residents are less likely to be satisfied with the quality of their care and their choice of health care providers. Clearly, when millions of Americans are uninsured, everyone is affected.

“We are at a unique moment when lawmakers have the chance to help millions of Americans better access stable, affordable health insurance. While coverage is critical for treating illness promptly and thoroughly—and enabling people to receive the preventive care that saves lives—health care must also be high-quality and good value for the money. Now is the time for advocates, policymakers and the public to focus on where they agree, and be willing to compromise where they don’t, in order to finally take action to fix what’s broken.

“It’s not our role as philanthropists to tell lawmakers how to do it. But it is our job to guide the discussion toward common ground. Our leaders must set aside their pre-conceived notions and work together in the public’s best interest. They must rise above partisanship, reject ideological rigidity, and embrace compromise as a first choice, not as a last resort.

“When it comes to reducing the number of uninsured, the consequences of inaction are far too serious for the health of our citizens and the health of our nation.”

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. The Foundation is the sponsor of Cover the Uninsured, the largest mobilization in history to create awareness of the need for action on the issue of the uninsured. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.