News Brief: Number of Americans without insurance at 10-year high

More than 2 million Americans lost their health insurance last year, the largest number losing coverage since 1992. The shift brings the total number of people without coverage to more than 41 million — a number that exceeds the aggregate populations of 23 states plus the District of Columbia, according to a report in the April 3 issue of the Christian Science Monitor.

The problem is expected to worsen as rising health care costs force more employers to scale back the amount of health coverage they will pay for, leaving the balance to be picked up by individuals, the report claims. And the rising number of uninsured is becoming a vicious circle.

As uninsured people delay care for small problems, then end up seeking care for serious, acute problems in hospital emergency departments — the most expensive place to receive care. Because these patients can often not afford to pay for care, hospitals must absorb these costs, frequently "cost-shifting" to insured patients by charging higher rates for care.

As the insurance costs rise, more employers are unable to provide health coverage, ultimately increasing the number of people who are uninsured.