WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | News

Nearly 25% of People in Charlottesville Lack Health Insurance

By: Bianca Spinosa Email
By: Bianca Spinosa Email

August 4, 2009

Surprising data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 25% of people in Charlottesville have no health insurance.

Charlottesville is home to some renowned hospitals: the University of Virginia Medical Center and Martha Jefferson. Yet one in four people in Charlottesville have no health insurance. Experts say more people go uninsured in college towns.

When Charlottesville resident Brittany Burgess turned 19, she stopped getting health insurance. She chooses not to get it now because she's healthy.

"I've never tried looking into getting everything. I'll just deal without it until I really need it," says Burgess.

The free clinic in Charlottesville serves hundreds of people every day who have no health insurance. The Executive Director says over 30% of young people go without.

"A lot of that has to do with trying to find jobs, or they might have beginning jobs that don't offer health insurance," explains Erika Viccellio, the Executive Director of the Charlottesville Free Clinic. "They're typically healthy, and they decide not to pay for expensive health insurance."

Viccellio says many college students also choose to stay in Charlottesville after attending school, which is driving up the uninsured rate, since there are many young people in the area. But that's not the only factor:

"Charlottesville has more small employers than large employers, and it's hard for small employers to offer health insurance. It's expensive," says Viccellio.

Some University of Virginia professors think the high number of people living in poverty in Charlottesville is the reason the numbers are so high even before the recession hit in 2008.

"If you are a childless adult and destitute, you will not get Medicaid," says Carolyn Engelhard, a Health Policy Analyst at the University of Virginia. "So there are a lot of poor people in Charlottesville who do not qualify for public health coverage."

University of Virginia students are typically well-insured. They're required to have health insurance during their first year of school in order to take classes. After that they can drop coverage, according to Dr. James Turner with Student Health at UVa. Dr. Turner estimates UVa students are the most insured group in Charlottesville.

Burgess is young and healthy , but she knows she'll need health care soon.

"[Like} hospital bills and anything else I need. Like glasses, which I have, but I need to get an appointment for some," she says.

Other college towns like Harrisonburg and Montgomery County have even higher rates of uninsured people. 28.5% were uninsured in Harrisonburg, the home of JMU, and in Montgomery County, the home of Virginia Tech, 27.7% of people are uninsured.

Those census numbers are from 2006, nearly three years before the recession. Experts estimate that this year the number of uninsured people will be much higher.

The comments sections of Newsplex.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. E-mail is required, but will not be displayed with comment.

  • Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. We will not post comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.
  • We will not post comments that use hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our website.
  • Comments should not attack other readers or people featured in our stories personally. Any accusations should be backed up with facts.
  • Any comment we post will be posted in its entirety. We do not edit any comment that we post.
  • Comments should contribute to the discussion. We will not post comments that don't advance the discussion. Flaming and/or trolling will not be tolerated.
  • Comments should not attack other posters. Let's keep the focus on the content of the story.

    As a host Newsplex.com welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However this is a site that we host. We have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason The Newsplex reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.

    If you have any ideas to improve the conversation or this section let us know. Send an e-mail to webmaster@newsplex.com.


powered by Disqus
The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 52468277