01 Jan 2003 Talking Points on Health Care #15: Facts about the Uninsured – Part I
While the vast majority of Americans (86%) have either private health insurance or health care coverage through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, approximately 14 percent of all Americans are uninsured.
Contrary to popular perception, the uninsured are not all poor, nor are they old. Rather, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the uninsured tend to be younger adults.1
According to the most recent Census Bureau figures, the elderly (over 65) constitute about 12% of the total population, but only 0.6% – or less than 1% – of the uninsured. This is because almost all of the elderly (99.4%) have health insurance coverage through the government Medicare program. While the number of uninsured children is a significant problem, children are not disproportionately uninsured relative to the general population. Children (under 18) make up 26% of the total population but a lesser share (22%) of the uninsured.
In contrast, while about 10% of the general population is between the ages of 18 and 24, they account for 19% of the uninsured population. Similarly, 13.5% of the general population is between the ages of 25 and 34, but they constitute 20.5% of the uninsured. Thus, almost 40% of the uninsured are between the ages of 18 and 34.
While the uninsured do tend to be concentrated among lower income families, a significant number could be considered middle- or upper-income. About 36% of the uninsured have household incomes of less than $25,000 and another 33% have incomes of between $25,000 and $50,000, a group that could be considered lower income, but not poor. However, 16.7% of the uninsured have incomes of between $50,000 and $75,000, while another 14.3% of the uninsured have household incomes of $75,000 or more. Thus, 31% of the uninsured are in households with incomes of $50,000 or more.
1 Robert J. Mills, “Health Insurance Coverage: 2000,” Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, September, 2001. All figures in this Talking Points are calculated from data in “Table A. People Without Health Insurance for the Entire Year by Selected Characteristics: 1999 and 2000” of this report. A copy of the report can be obtained at: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthin00.html.