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New census figures show rise in uninsured in Illinois and dramatic increase in Missouri

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 16, 2009 - From 2001-2008, Missouri saw a dramatic increase in the number and percentage of its residents who have no health insurance. And the percentage of Missourians with employer-based coverage has dramatically declined.

That's the assessment of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, after examining the latest figures released by the U.S. Census regarding health coverage.

The figures for Illinois were not quite as dire, showing less dramatic change.

The report released today doesn't offer much detail, nor does it ascribe reasons for the increases.

According to the latest Census numbers:

-- Percentage of non-elderly adults without coverage for at least a year: In Illinois, it was 17.4 percent (1.6 million) in 2008, compared to 16.6 percent in 2001. In Missouri, the percentage is 17.5 percent (739,000) -- dramatically up from 13.5 percent in 2001.

-- Percentage with employer-based coverage: In Missouri, it was 68.4 percent in 2008, down from 77.3 percent in 2001. In Illinois, the percentage was 71.6 percent in 2008, compared to 74.2 percent in 2001.

-- Number of workers without coverage: In Illinois, 15.5 percent of workers have no coverage, compared to 15.1 percent in 2001. In Missouri, 15.8 percent of workers have no coverage, dramatically up from 12.6 percent in 2001.

-- High-income people without coverage: An additional 32,000 have been added in Missouri, compared to an additional 66,000 in Illinois.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.