Health Inc.

Making Sense Of Census Data On The Uninsured

The Census Bureau just released its annual numbers on the uninsured, and it has ammunition for those on both sides of the health overhaul debate.

Opponents of reform will be able to note that the overall number of uninsured was statistically unchanged from 2007 to 2008; rising incrementally from 45.7 to 46.3 million people. Put another way, 15.4 percent of the population is uninsured.

Map of the United States, showing where the uninsured are. i i

Check out our interactive map of state rates of the uninsured right here Alyson Hurt and Robert Benincasa/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Alyson Hurt and Robert Benincasa/NPR
Map of the United States, showing where the uninsured are.

Check out our interactive map of state rates of the uninsured right here

Alyson Hurt and Robert Benincasa/NPR

But overhaul supporters will be able to note that the percentage of the non-Medicare population with private insurance continued to drop, by nearly a full percentage point, from 67.5 percent in 2007 to 66.7 percent last year.

The only reason the overall uninsured rate did not rise was because many of those people losing private coverage — children in particular — were scooped up into government programs.

The number of people with government coverage rose by more than four million in 2007, from 83 million to 87.4 million.

And the uninsured rate and number of uninsured children under age 18 both fell to their lowest levels since 1987, even before the Congressional expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

For more on the census numbers, and their impact on the health overhaul debate, tune into All Things Considered tonight.

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