Most of the recent increases in the number of the uninsured comes from higher-income people who could afford insurance, according to a new analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported a week ago that the number uninsured in 2002 rose by 2.4 million people, bringing the rate of uninsured Americans to 15.2%, or 43.6 million people.
But in an analysis of federal data released Tuesday, the center says households that earn $50,000 per year or more accounted for about three-fourths of the increase in the number of uninsured in the past four years. It adds that half of that increase occurred among households earning more than $75,000 per year.
By contrast, the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 17% in the same time frame, says the report, "Uninsured by Choice."
"A common assumption is that most uninsured Americans simply cannot afford the cost of coverage," the report says. "However, the evidence points to other factors in many cases."
In addition, the report says periods without health insurance tend to be of short duration. It says periods without health insurance are over within a year for 74.7% of the uninsured, while only 2.5% percent lack insurance for more than three years.