NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Americans Getting Health Insurance

September 29, 2000

Both the number and percentage of Americans without health insurance fell last year, according to new Census Bureau figures. Until 1999, the numbers of those without insurance had risen relentlessly since 1988.

Health policy experts credit the strong economy and competition among employers to attract and keep workers for the turnaround -- whereas the proportion covered by public health programs remained flat.

  • The number of uninsured declined by 1.7 million to 42.6 million in 1999 -- falling to 15.5 percent of Americans from 16.3 percent in 1998.
  • The number of those who obtained health insurance through their employer rose last year by 3.4 million to 172 million -- with this category accounting for 85 percent of the overall increase.
  • The number of uninsured children declined to 10 million from 11.1 million a year earlier -- to 13.9 percent from 15.4 percent.
  • The proportion of the population covered by government health insurance programs stayed steady at 24 percent.

Experts note that small firms are more likely to offer health insurance today than they did just two years ago.

Hispanics were more likely to be uninsured than any other major ethnic or racial group, according to the bureau. Males are more likely to go without insurance than females. Among youths ages 18 to 24, the uninsured rate is 29 percent -- the highest of any age group. Slightly more than 24 percent of households with incomes of less than $24,000 went without insurance in 1999.

Insurance coverage steadily rises as education levels increase. Some 26.7 percent of those without high school diplomas go without insurance -- decreasing to 8.2 percent of those with bachelor's degrees or higher.

Source: Robert Pear, "Number of Insured Americans Up for First Time Since '87," New York Times, September 29, 2000.


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