Number of Uninsured in U.S. Up to 47 Million, New Census Data Show
The number of uninsured U.S. residents grew by 2.2 million in 2006 to 47 million, up from 44.8 million in 2005, according to Census Bureau data released on Tuesday, USA Today reports. The percentage of the U.S. population that was uninsured rose to 15.8% in 2006, up from 15.3% in 2005 (Appleby, USA Today, 8/29).
The report found that in California about 6.7 million state residents were uninsured -- about one-fifth of the population (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/29).
To compile the data, the Census Bureau collected information about the health insurance status of 300,000 individuals (Lopes, Washington Times, 8/29).
The survey also found that:
- 58.7% of the uninsured worked either full- or part-time during 2006;
- Adults ages 18 to 34 comprise the largest portion of the uninsured at 40.4% of those without coverage;
- 73.2% of the uninsured were U.S. citizens;
- Of the uninsured, 62% live in households with annual incomes less than $50,000, and of that group, more than half live in households with annual incomes between $25,000 and $50,000;
- 18.1% of the uninsured lived in households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 (Armstrong, CQ Today, 8/29);
- 8.5% of the uninsured in 2006 lived in households with annual incomes greater than $75,000, up from 7.7% in 2005;
- 19.3% of children in families with annual incomes below the federal poverty level are uninsured (USA Today, 8/29);
- 11.7% of children lacked health insurance in 2006, up from 10.9% in 2005. The percentage of children who are uninsured has increased two years in a row after five years of decline (Aizenman/Lee, Washington Post, 8/29);
- Uninsurance rates differed by race, with 34.1%, or 15.3 million, of Hispanics uninsured in 2006, up from 32.3% in 2005. Uninsurance rates for blacks increased from 19% in 2005 to 20.5% in 2006. The rate for whites was statistically unchanged at 10.8% in 2006, while the rate for Asian-Americans dropped from 17.2% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2006;
- An additional 1.3 million full- or part-time workers were uninsured in 2006, compared with 2005;
- The uninsurance rate for documented immigrants remained statistically unchanged at 16.4%, while the uninsured rate for undocumented immigrants increased from 43.1% to 45% (USA Today, 8/29);
- Texas in 2006 had the highest percentage of uninsured residents at 24.1% and Minnesota had the lowest at 8.5%;
- The percentage of individuals with government-sponsored health care declined from 27.3% in 2005 to 27% in 2006 (Goodnough, New York Times, 8/29); and
- The number of people with health insurance increased to 249.8 million in 2006, up from 249 million in 2005 (U.S. Census Bureau report highlights, 8/29).
Census officials largely attributed the increase in the number of uninsured residents to continuing declines in employer-sponsored health care. The percentage of people covered through employers declined from 60.2% in 2005 to 59.7% in 2006, according to the data (Washington Post, 8/29).
Douglas Besharov, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said that employers are struggling with the rising costs of providing health care to employees (New York Times, 8/29).
Some health care consultants attribute the declines to employees opting out of employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Washington Times. The consultants say that while this report does not account for why individuals lost insurance coverage, previous data have shown that individuals are finding it difficult to afford their employers' coverage (Washington Times, 8/29).
In addition, Medicaid and SCHIP in the last two years "could not keep up with the steady national decline" of employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Boston Globe (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 8/29).
C-SPAN video of the complete press conference announcing the census report is available online.
Several broadcast programs reported on the report. Summaries appear below.
- American Public Media's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Rowland; Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund; and Robert Rector, senior research fellow for domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation (Palmer, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 8/28). Audio of the segment is available online.
- CBS's "Evening News": The segment includes comments from Nancy Pallesen, executive director of the Arlington Free Clinic in Virginia, and a clinic patient (Andrews, "Evening News," CBS, 8/28). Video of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes comments from Len Nichols, an economist at the New America Foundation; Nigel Gault, an economist at Global Insight; and Tim Smeeding, a professor of economics at Syracuse University (Langfitt, "All Things Considered," NPR, 8/28). Audio of the segment is available online.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation; Jonathan Oberlander, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/29). Audio of the segment is available online.