Cover Story Sidebar

Who are the Uninsured?

The ranks of the uninsured are growing and there are distinct patterns


y analyzing the 1996 Current Population Survey data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI found that in 1995 there were approximately 40.3 million non-elderly Americans (or 17.4 percent ) without any form of health coverage, public or private. This is an increase from 1988 when the uninsured rate was 15.2 percent. This data corresponds with declines in employment-based health insurance—63.8 percent of the population was covered by such insurance in 1995, down from 69.5 percent covered in 1988.

There are approximately 70.1 million children in the United States. According to EBRI, 9.8 million of them were uninsured for the entire year in 1995. Data compiled by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), based on the bureau of Census’s Survey of Income and program Participation (SIPP) (which tracks the transitions in health coverage for children over time), indicate that, in 1993, 15.5 percent of children were uninsured for some part of the year while 6.5 percent of children were uninsured throughout the year. (Written testimony of Linda Bilheimer, Congressional Budget Office before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, April 8, 1997.)

Employer based coverage has eroded for children. The figure fell from 66.7 percent covered as dependents in 1987 to 58.6 percent in 1995. (EBRI, "Source of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured.")

Although there was a decline in private health benefits, there was a significant increase in Medicaid coverage, rising from 15.5 to 23.2 percent of all children in the same period. Therefore, the total number of uninsured children only increased form 13.3 percent 1987 to 13.8 percent in 1995. (EBRI)

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), there were approximately 2.9 million uninsured children in 1994 who met federal guidelines for Medicaid eligibility but who were not enrolled. Of these children 80.4 percent had working parents. (GAO, "Health Insurance for Children; Private Insurance Coverage Continues to Deteriorate," GAO/HEHS 96-129, June 1996, p.3.)

Approximately 70 percent of uninsured children live in households with annual incomes of $33,000 annually for a family of four, or under 200 percent of poverty level. Almost two-thirds (63.4 percent) of uninsured children live in two-parent families. Fifty-five percent of uninsured children in 1995 lived in households in which as least one parent was working fulltime, year round; and 28 percent in households in which at least one parent was working fulltime, but for less than a full year. (EBRI) u

back to
Hillary-Care for Kids Through the Backdoor


Journal front | Search | Comment | Sponsors