The number of uninsured in the U.S. reached 45 million in 2003, a 3.2% increase over the 43.6 million people without insurance in 2002, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rate of uninsured among the population rose to 15.6% last year, up from 15.2% in 2002.
A decline in coverage by employer-sponsored plans is mostly responsible for the overall drop in coverage, according to the bureau. The percentage and number of people covered by their employers fell to 60.4%, or 174 million people in 2003 from 61.3%, or 175.3 million people in 2002.
Hispanics continued last year to be the least insured of any ethnic group at 32.7%, unchanged from 2002.
According to the data, 243.3 million people had health insurance coverage in 2003, an increase of 1 million over 2002.
More information on the new census data, which is part of the bureau's income, poverty and health insurance report, can be found here.