NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Going Without Health Insurance

February 26, 1999

Some 43.4 million Americans lack health insurance. Each year, for more than a decade, an average of one million Americans a year lose their health insurance or fail to obtain insurance for which they became eligible.

Who among the population is most likely to lack coverage?

  • Data collected for 1997 reveal that men are more likely to go without coverage than women -- 18 percent versus 15 percent.
  • Fifteen percent of those under age 18 are not covered -- a figure which jumps to 30 percent for youths age 18 to 21.
  • The figures then drop to 23 percent for the 25 to 34 age bracket, 17 percent for ages 35 to 44, 14 percent among those ages 45 to 64, and about 1 percent for those 65 and older.
  • Among Hispanics the rate is 34 percent; falling to 22 percent and 21 percent for blacks and Asians, respectively; and 15 percent for whites.

Some 49 percent of full-time workers with incomes below the poverty line lack coverage -- compared to 17 percent of all full- time workers. Among people who did not work in 1997, some 26 percent went uninsured.

Experts say that not many of the uninsured are elderly or seriously disabled, because these groups are mostly covered by Medicare. Another group -- some five million to six million -- have incomes above $75,000 and could afford coverage if they wanted it. Almost 11 million are children, from families rich, poor or in between. Non-Medicaid-eligible children already get help under a five-year, $24 billion program passed by Congress in 1997.

That leaves 25 million to 30 million people who have the greatest chance of becoming ill and who cannot pay for care when they do.

Source: Peter T. Kilborn, "Uninsured in U.S. Span Many Groups," New York Times, February 26, 1999


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