New data reflect an increase in the number of uninsured Americans, prompting some benefit industry representatives to question the impact of federal health care reform.

The data came Tuesday, when the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.”

 “The poverty rate in the United States reached its highest point in almost 20 years, increasing from 14.3% in 2009 to 15.1% in 2010,” observed Janet Trautwein, CEO of National Association of Health Underwriters. “The total number of uninsured rose to 49.9 million, an increase of 919,000 compared to 2009’s revised estimate. As the uninsured rate nearly matches the total unemployment rate of 16.2%, the increase in the uninsured reflects a deeper problem with the economy that cannot be resolved with misguided and ineffective health insurance legislation,” she claims.

“The number of uninsured with household incomes over $75,000 totaled about 9.5 million. These individuals should be able to obtain coverage on their own, but instead are forced to risk their personal health and financial well being, as well as that of our nation, because they cannot justify the cost,” says Trautwein. “Health reform has not focused on these core issues — outreach to eligible populations with programs that are attractive and cost containment to make medical services for all more affordable.”

It is generally recognized that the resulting health reform legislation passed in 2010 focused more on insurance market reforms than cost containment. But groups including NAHU say they are still willing to help work toward those goals.

“NAHU is committed to continuing to work to promote measures that curb costs, improve wellness, rein in frivolous lawsuits and expand consumer choice,” according to Trautwein. “We will continue to work with the administration and members of Congress to help Americans access to the best medical care in the world at an affordable price.

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