California has 7 million uninsured people—that’s by far more uninsured citizens than any state in the nation. Just over one-fifth of Californians—of 20.5 percent—lack basic health-care insurance. That figure ranks California eighth highest nationwide in percentage. Of those, 58 percent are Latino, and 25 percent are white.
Contrary to popular belief, these people are not slackers: Only 16 percent of uninsured Californians had no one in their family working. In fact, according to a 2007 UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report, two-thirds of California’s uninsured were full-time employees (which includes workers’ spouses and children). Nearly 900,000 were self-employed.
“The problem of the uninsured is no longer one of poor, urban residents; it is a soccer mom and NASCAR dad problem,” wrote Dustin Corcoran, senior vice president of government relations and affairs for the California Medical Association. “Many of the uninsured make decent wages and live in good neighborhoods, yet they have no regular access to a physician. In fact, medical care is the leading cause of bankruptcy.” Nationally, 1 million people a year file bankruptcy because of medical debt.