The number of uninsured nationwide rose to 46.3 million in 2008, up 1.3% from 45.7 million the prior year, with 15.4% of the total population uninsured, which was no statistical change over 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Employment-based and private insurance coverage fell, while enrollment in government coverage such as Medicare and Medicaid rose. The percentage of people covered by private-sector health insurance was 66.7%—down from 67.5% the prior year. The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance was 58.5% last year, down from 59.3% in 2007.
The percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs increased to 29% from 27.8%, according to the bureau.
“They basically offset each other to keep the (overall uninsured) rate statistically unchanged,” said David Johnson, chief of the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division at the bureau.
Children were a bright spot in the results, with 7.3 million children under 18 uninsured, or 9.9% of all children, down nearly 10%, from 8.1 million uninsured children, or 11%, the year before. The uninsured rate for children and the number of uninsured children are the lowest figures since 1987, the first year the data were collected. -- Rebecca Vesely
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