Washington, D.C. – Approximately 89.6 million Americans—more than one out of three people (34.7 percent) under 65 years of age—were uninsured at some point of time during 2006-2007, according to a report released by the health consumer organization Families USA.
The report, based mainly on Census Bureau data, showed that most of these uninsured individuals lacked coverage for lengthy periods of time: nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) were uninsured for six months or more; and more than half (50.2 percent) were uninsured for nine months or more.
The number of states where more than one-third of non-elderly people went without health insurance for all or part of a two-year period more than doubled—rising from nine states in 1999-2000 to 20 states plus the District of Columbia in 2006-2007. Texas had the highest rate with 45.7 percent of the non-elderly population uninsured. The other states are: New Mexico (44.3%); Arizona (41.8%); California (40.5%); Florida (40.1%); Mississippi (38.7%); Nevada (38.4%); Louisiana (38.1%); Oklahoma (37.7%); Georgia (37.6%); South Carolina (37.4%); Arkansas (37.2%); Utah (35.2%); Alabama (35.1%); the District of Columbia (35.1%); West Virginia (35.1%); Alaska (34.8%); North Carolina (34.6%); Oregon (34.6%); Colorado (34.2%); and Montana (33.9%).
“The huge number of people without health coverage over the past two years helps to explain why health care has become the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential campaign,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “The expansion of health coverage in America is no longer simply a matter of altruism about other people but a matter of intense self-interest.”
The report shows that four out of five of the uninsured (79.3%) were in working families: 70.6 percent were employed full-time, and 8.7 percent were employed part-time. In addition, nearly every age group was affected. Of the total 89.6 million uninsured, 64.2 million were between 18 and 64 years of age. More than one-third (34.9%) were ages 25 to 44—the age group that makes up the largest percentage of the uninsured.
The report also documents the large increase in the number of people who have experienced a loss or lack of health coverage. In the two-year period of 1999-2000, 72.5 million people went without health coverage—more than 17 million fewer than the people experiencing a lack of coverage in 2006-2007.
“These trends document the consequences of inaction,” said Pollack. “The number of uninsured has reached crisis proportions that must be addressed by the President and Congress to ensure that health coverage is available and affordable for all.”
According to the Families USA report, the states with the largest number of uninsured people for some or all of 2006-2007 were California (13.0 million), Texas (9.3 million), Florida (6.0 million), New York (5.5 million), Illinois (3.6 million), Georgia (3.1 million), Ohio (2.9 million), Pennsylvania (2.9 million), North Carolina (2.6 million), Michigan (2.5 million), and New Jersey (2.4 million).
Although nearly half of the uninsured were non-Hispanic whites, the report found that there were huge disparities in the uninsured rate based on race and ethnicity. Among people under 65 years of age, approximately 26.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured in the past two years, compared to 44.5 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and 60.7 percent for Hispanics.
"This report shows just how many working families are struggling with the skyrocketing costs of health care," said Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI). "It is simply unacceptable that in the greatest country in the world, a third of Americans have had to go without health insurance at some point over the last two years. Health care should be a right, not a privilege in our country, and I will continue my fight to make that a reality."
"Given what we know about the growing number of uninsured Americans, and the findings from the new Families USA report, we have a historic opportunity to address the health care concerns of our nation's children by passing a final CHIP reauthorization bill before the end of the month," Rep. Frank Pallone said. "I am confident Congress will do that, and am hopeful that President Bush will reconsider his veto threat so that we can help millions of additional children. This is how we begin to address the issue of the uninsured here in America."
The Families USA report was based on data from the Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The data were compiled with the assistance of the Lewin Group. For this analysis, Families USA examined trends in health insurance coverage from 1999-2000 to 2006-2007.
For the full report, click here.