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More Americans Without Health Insurance

88.4 percent of all children were uninsured in 2002 

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The number of Americans not covered by health insurance rose by 2.4 million to 43.6 million between 2001 and 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the census report, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2002, an estimated 15.2 percent of the total U.S. population had no health insurance coverage during all of 2002, up from 14.6 percent in 2001.

A total of 64.8 million children, or 88.4 percent of all U.S. children remained uninsured in 2002.

Census analysts attributed the decrease in health coverage to a drop in the percentage (62.6 percent to 61.3 percent) of people covered by employer-provided health insurance. Decreased national employment rates over the period played a large part in the reduction of the number of persons covered by employer-provided health plans.

While private sector health coverage decreased, the percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs rose in 2002, from 25.3 percent to 25.7 percent, largely as the result of an increase in Medicaid coverage.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Although Medicaid insured 14.0 million people in poverty, another 10.5 million people representing 30.4 percent of those in poverty had no health insurance in 2002; this percentage was unchanged from 2001.

  • The rate of uninsured Hispanics, who may be of any race, was 32.4 percent in 2002 higher than any other racial or ethnic group, but unchanged from 2001.

  • The proportion of the foreign-born population without health insurance (33.4 percent was more than double that of the native population (12.8 percent).

  • The health insurance coverage rates for non-Hispanic whites who reported a single race was 89.3 percent. For blacks and Asians who reported a single race, the rates were 79.8 percent and 81.6 percent, respectively.

  • Young adults (18-to-24 years old) were less likely than other age groups to have health insurance coverage 70.4 percent in 2002. This compares with 82.3 percent for those 25-to-64 years old and 99.2 percent for those 65 and over, reflecting widespread Medicare coverage.

  • While most children (67.5 percent) were covered by an employment-based or privately purchased health insurance plan in 2002, nearly 1-in-4 (23.9 percent) was covered by Medicaid.

  • The proportion of people who did not have health insurance ranged from about 8.0 percent in Minnesota, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Iowa to 24.1 percent in Texas, based on three-year averages. New Mexico was the only state where the proportion of people without coverage fell, while the proportion rose in 18 states, based on comparisons of two-year averages.
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