More Americans Have Health Insurance Than Ever Before

New Census Figures Show Growing Uninsured Problem Among Higher Incomes, Says NCPA

DALLAS (August 26, 2004) – The number of Americans who have health insurance is higher now than at any time in recent history, according to an analysis of the latest Census report by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). The NCPA also found that the greatest growing uninsured problem is among those who can apparently afford it, with incomes over $50,000 a year.

“While it is true that the number of uninsured has grown, it is equally true that the number of people with insurance has grown steadily for the last 15 years,” said NCPA senior fellow Devon Herrick. “Despite recent economic hard times, there has never been this many people with health insurance.”

The NCPA found that the rise in both the number of people with and without health insurance is explained by growth in the overall population. While the exact number of people without health insurance has grown, the percent of the population without health insurance has remained in the range of 15 percent. According to an NCPA analysis of the just-released Census report:

  • The number of people with health insurance increased by 1 million people in 2003, to 243.3 million, or 84.4 percent of the population.
  • Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance grew by 1.4 million, or 15.6 percent of the population.
  • The proportion of children who were uninsured did not change, remaining at 11.4 percent of all children, or 8.4 million in 2003.

According to NCPA estimates, a growing problem is the increasing number of families with incomes above $50,000 who are becoming uninsured.

  • Households that earn $50,000 per year or more account for about 90 percent of the increase in the number of uninsured over the past 10 years. And almost two-thirds of that has occurred among households earning more than $75,000 per year.
  • Since 1993, the number of uninsured in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by almost 128 percent. By contrast, the number of uninsured with annual incomes below $25,000 fell by an estimated 15 percent.

“Being uninsured in America is often a matter of choice,” said Herrick. “Most uninsured people either can afford health insurance or qualify for government-sponsored health care programs; they just choose not to enroll.”