Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Health Insurance Coverage Has Fallen

There is more bad news emerging from the 2007 Current Population Survey results. The percentage of people without health insurance climbed to 15.8 percent in 2006, up from 15.3 percent in 2005. The number of people without health insurance increased to 47 million, up by 2 million during the past year.

What explains the growing proportion of Americans without health insurance? Behind the increase is the loss of private, employment-based coverage, the foundation of our health insurance system. Only 59.7 percent of the population had employment-based health insurance in 2006, down from 64 percent a few years ago. Only 9 percent of Americans privately purchase health insurance, an all-time low. Medicaid (the government's health insurance program for the poor) covers 13 percent of the population, and Medicare (the government's health insurance program for the elderly) covers 14 percent.

The percentage of people without health insurance ranges from a low of 11 percent among non-Hispanic whites to a high of 34 percent among Hispanics. Among children under age 18, the percentage without health insurance climbed from 10.9 to 11.7 percent between 2005 and 2006. Perhaps most disturbing, the percentage of people aged 55 to 64 who do not have health insurance climbed to 12.7 percent in 2006. In this age group, health problems not only become more frequent, but also more costly.

The percentage of Americans without health insurance grew in every household income group, with middle-income households experiencing the biggest increase. Fourteen percent of Americans with household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 do not have health insurance.

For more about health insurance coverage, see the Census Bureau report.

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