The number of uninsured people declined 3.2% to 45.7 million, or 15.3% of the population, in 2007 from 47 million, or 15.8% of the population, in 2006, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
We havent completely evaluated the causes for the drop in the number of uninsured, although expansion in public health insurance is a likely reason, David Johnson, chief of the bureaus housing and household economic statistics division, said during a news conference.
The percentage of those covered by government health programs increased to 27.8%, or 83 million, in 2007 from 27%, or 80.3 million, in 2006, the Census Bureau found in its report Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007. In other findings, the number of uninsured children declined 6.9% to 8.1 million from 8.7 million. The numbers of those covered by private or employer-based coverage did not change much from 2006 to 2007.
While some healthcare experts were encouraged by the report, Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of Americas Health Insurance Plans, cautioned that a modest decline in the uninsured rate does not reduce the urgency of the healthcare crisis. Todays report showing that 45 million Americans are uninsured highlights a critical social and economic challenge that the nation must address, she said in a written statement.
Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack called the data troublesome, saying that public safety net programs such as Medicaid and, to some extent, Medicare, have swelled by 2.7 million as employer-based coverage has declined. It is ironic at the very time the Bush administration has tried to cut back on Medicaid and twice vetoed the extension of childrens health coverage, the public safety net cushioned the loss of employer-based health insurance, Pollack told reporters at a news conference in Denver. -- by Jennifer Lubell and Matthew DoBias