Number of people without health insurance rises

The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, although the percentage remained unchanged at 15.4 percent.

These findings are contained in the report "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008." The data was collected in the 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

The report noted that between 2007 and 2008, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 202 million to 201 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 83 million to 87.4 million.

The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 177.4 million to 176.3 million.

At 11.6 percent, the Northeast and Midwest had lower uninsured rates in 2008 than the West (17.4 percent) and the (18.2 percent). The 2008 rates for the Northeast, Midwest and South were not statistically different from their respective 2007 rates. The uninsured rate for the West increased to 17.4 percent in 2008, up from 16.9 percent in 2007.

The number of uninsured children declined from 8.1 million (11 percent) in 2007 to 7.3 million (9.9 percent) in 2008. Both the uninsured rate and number of uninsured children are the lowest since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data was collected.

Although the uninsured rate for children in poverty declined from 17.6 percent in 2007 to 15.7 percent in 2008, children in poverty were more likely to be uninsured than all children.

The uninsured rate and number of uninsured for non-Hispanic whites increased in 2008 to 10.8 percent and 21.3 million, from 10.4 percent and 20.5 million in 2007. The uninsured rate and number of uninsured for blacks in 2008, meanwhile, were not statistically different from 2007, at 19.1 percent and 7.3 million. The uninsured rate for Asians in 2008 rose to 17.6 percent, up from 16.8 percent.

The percentage of uninsured Hispanics decreased to 30.7 percent in 2008 from 32.1 percent in 2007. The number of uninsured Hispanics was not statistically different in 2008, at 14.6 million.

Based on a three-year average (2006-2008), 31.7 percent of people who reported American Indian and Alaska Native as their race were without coverage. The three-year average uninsured rate for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders was 18.5 percent.

The uninsured rates for the native-born and foreign-born populations were statistically unchanged at 12.9 percent and 33.5 percent, respectively, in 2008. Among the foreign-born population, the uninsured rates for both naturalized citizens (18.0 percent) and noncitizens (44.7 percent) were statistically unchanged.