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Some 34 percent of Americans under age 18, or more than 17 million children, lacked any form of health insurance for at least one month during a 28-month period between 1985 and 1987, the U.S. Census Bureau has found.

The study, which covered a longer time period than previous bureau analyses, also found that almost half of female-headed households with children lacked private health insurance or were not covered by Medicaid for at least one month during the period studied.

One-fifth of all children under age 6 were covered by Medicaid for at least one month during the period.

Over all, about 28 percent of Americans, or 63 million people, were uninsured for at least one of the 28 months.

The study, released this month, employed a new way of measuring health-insurance coverage by monitoring coverage over an extended period of time. Traditional measures estimate how many people lack coverage at a particular time.

Using the traditional method, the study reported, 15.3 percent children under age 16 and 21.9 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 24 lacked insurance during the last quarter of 1988. Based on that method, 13 percent of the overall population, or 31.5 million people, lacked health insurance during that time.

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