47 Million Lack Health Insurance

Ranks of People Without Health Insurance Rising, Says U.S. Census Department

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 29, 2007 -- Any way you look at it, the ranks of people in the U.S. without health insurance rose last year.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 47 million people in the U.S. have no health insurance, up from nearly 45 million in 2005.

The percentage breakdown of people in the U.S. without health insurance rose from 15.3% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2006, according to the Census Bureau.

Got an eye for detail? The Census Bureau defined "no health insurance" as lacking any type of health insurance -- including a health insurance plan through your job or union, or coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, the military, or state government programs -- for the entire year.

People who had any type of health insurance for any part of 2006 were considered to have health insurance in 2006.

Health Insurance Statistics

Fewer people got health insurance through their jobs in 2006 than in 2005.

The Census Bureau reports that the percentage of people with health insurance provided through their employers dropped from 60.2% in 2005 to 59.7% in 2006.

Working adults aren't the only ones who are increasingly going without health insurance. Children are also affected.

The Census Bureau's figures show that 11.7% of children younger than 18 had no health insurance in 2006, up from 10.9% in 2005.

The health insurance statistics also show the following racial and ethnic patterns in the ranks of the uninsured from 2005 to 2006:

  • The percentage of uninsured whites held steady at 10.8%
  • The percentage of uninsured African-Americans rose from 19% to 20.5%
  • The percentage of uninsured Hispanics rose from 32.3% to 34.1%
  • The percentage of uninsured Asians dropped from 17.2% to 15.5%

Groups React

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Commonwealth Fund (a private foundation focused on health care) issued statements decrying the state of health insurance in America.

The AMA said that the Census Department's report "is a forceful reminder that action is desperately needed" on America's health insurance situation. The AMA also called the rise in uninsured children "unconscionable."

The Commonwealth Fund notes that "nearly all uninsured adults are employed, and are increasingly likely to be in middle-class families."

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 29, 2007


SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006." News release, U.S. Census Bureau. News release, American Medical Association. News release, The Commonwealth Fund.

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