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Health Insurance: Most Have Coverage

Mon Sep 26 2011
David Johnson
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New figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that most of us – 256.2 million, or 83.7 percent – did, in fact, have health insurance coverage during the entire 2010 calendar year. However, that left 49.9 million, or 16.3 percent, who did not.

Dig a little deeper into the numbers and we see so many key factors that influence whether one ended up in the “have” or “have-not” camp.

One key factor is age. Because of Medicare, coverage for people 65 and older is virtually universal, with only 2.0 percent lacking coverage in 2010. On the other hand, for young adults 18 to 24, the situation was vastly different, as 27.2 percent were not covered.

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The uninsured rate is higher among those with lower incomes and lower among people with higher incomes. In 2010, despite the existence of programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, 26.9 percent of people with annual incomes of less than $25,000 had no health insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, 8.0 percent of those in households with incomes of $75,000 or more were uninsured.

Minorities and the foreign-born population also were more likely to lack coverage. The uninsured rate stood at 18.1 percent for Asians, 20.8 percent for blacks and 30.7 percent for Hispanics. Twenty percent of naturalized citizens were uninsured, while noncitizens had the highest uninsured rate of all, as about half (45.1 percent) lacked health insurance. The percentages of non-Hispanic whites and native-born people who lacked coverage were 11.7 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively.

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The Census Bureau has published numbers on health insurance coverage since 1987. Each year, we ask roughly 78,000 households about whether they had any coverage during the previous calendar year in the Current Population Survey. This is the source of the numbers used as the nation determines the course to follow on this issue. The information you give in answering our surveys helps policymakers, advocacy groups and think tanks understand the extent of the lack of health insurance.

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To access all of our health insurance data, visit our website.

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