Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

CDC: Nearly 15 percent were uninsured in 2012; South LA rate is more than double

08 - UMMA Clinic Nursing

Christopher Okula/KPCC

Receptionist Stephany Bustillo processes information for patients at UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles, where an estimated 38 percent of adults are uninsured. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that in 2012, nearly 15 percent of the American population lacked health insurance.

More than 45 million people in the U.S. had no health insurance in 2012, and the number of people who'd spent at least part of the previous year uninsured approached 58 million.

That's according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also noted that when the data was gathered, more than 34 million people had been uninsured for more than a year.

That means in 2012, nearly 15 percent of the American population didn't have health insurance. Double that percentage and it's still a ways off from where South Los Angeles is: According to the latest data from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, more than 38 percent of the area's adults are uninsured.

The same goes for almost 9 percent of South L.A.'s children and teenagers.

Both of those rates are the highest of any area in Los Angeles County, where overall, about 29 percent of adults and 5 percent of children are uninsured.

That certainly contributes to the high rate of children and adults who live on the southside and "have difficulty accessing medical care": about 18 and 45 percent, respectively. Nearly 1 in 10 children and 1 in 5 adults in South L.A. reported not seeing a doctor over the previous year when needed because they could not afford it.

The CDC report sheds light on the state of the uninsured in the U.S. as health officials nationwide continue rolling out the Affordable Care Act. Starting in October, U.S. residents will have the option of enrolling in statewide health insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where they'll be able to compare and buy plans at prices officials say will be competitive. California's exchange is Covered California.

Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, is also set to expand and take on more beneficiaries as part of health care reform.

Also among the CDC's findings for 2012:

  • Nearly 5 million – that's about 7 percent – of children under 18 were uninsured.
  • More than 26 percent of young adults, meaning those between the ages of 19 and 25, were uninsured.
  • With regard to California's population, more than 17 percent were uninsured, more than 1 in 3 were covered by a public health plan and more than 54 percent had private coverage.
  • More than 40 percent of those whom the government classified as "poor" were uninsured in 2012. That rate is virtually identical to what it was in 1997.
  • Men were more likely to be uninsured than women.
  • The rate of the uninsured among Latinos (about 29 percent) was disparately high compared to the percentage of uninsured among whites (about 11 percent), blacks (more than 16 percent) and Asians (about 15 percent).
  • Folks who didn't graduate from high school, as well as those who were unemployed, were more likely to be uninsured.

The agency used data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey to arrive at its conclusions.

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