News brief

82 million Americans uninsured in 2002-2003

Nearly 82 million Americans younger than 65 went without health insurance for all or part of 2002 and 2003, according to a report released recently by Families USA. About half of them were uninsured for nine months or more, and two-thirds for six months or more, the study found. Most of the uninsured (78.8%) were employed or in working families, including one-quarter of Americans in households earning three to four times the federal poverty level ($55,980-$74,640 for a family of four). Hispanics and African-Americans were more likely to be uninsured and to remain uninsured for longer stretches.

Democratic governors speaking at a press briefing on the study expressed concern that the number of uninsured will increase even further as a result of the enhanced Medicaid matching percentages that expired June 30. The report, based on an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by the Lewin Group, is available at www.familiesusa.org. Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meanwhile, put the figure for Americans who were uninsured during at least part of 2003 at 53 million.

The CDC’s latest National Health Interview Study indicated that figure represented 23.8% of working-age adults and 13.7% of children younger than 18. About 15.2% were uninsured at the time of the survey, while 10% had been uninsured for more than a year, including 2.5 million more working adults than in 2002. About one in 10 children was uninsured for at least part of the past year and 5.3% for more than a year, according to the survey.

For more on the CDC survey, go to www.cdc.gov/nchs/