Number of N.H.’s uninsured hits 130,000

The percentage of New Hampshire’s population without health insurance has begun to increase, and the number of state residents who lack health insurance has grown to more than 130,000, according to a report from the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.

According to Steve Norton, the center’s director, the quarterly “Index of the Population Lacking Health Insurance” – which had been relatively stable for six years, started climbing at the beginning of 2007. The center has been tracking the statistic for seven years, he said.

Norton said it’s difficult to definitively explain the reason for the increase in uninsured New Hampshirites because recent data on employer and individual health-care purchasing decisions are not available. Data from surveys, such as the current population survey, often lag two to three years behind, he said.

One key factor, however, is health insurance rates, which Norton said have been increasing 10 percent per year. “This is probably a leading factor in the decline in the number of people with health insurance,” he said.

A recent study conducted by the center found that annual health insurance premium costs for one-person coverage increased from 11 percent to 15 percent of median income between 2000 and 2004.

He also noted that the number of people in the United States. without health insurance has grown as a result of reductions in employer-sponsored insurance coverage.

For more information on the index, see the Center’s report, “Monitoring Changes in Health Insurance Coverage,” at — JEFF FEINGOLD

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