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Nearly 39 million non-elderly Americans--9.8 million of them children--had no health insurance in 1992, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Among Americans younger than 65, 38.5 million, or 17.4 percent, were not covered by private or public health insurance in 1992. In 1991, that figure was 36.3 million, or 16.6 percent, of which 9.5 million were children.

The primary reason for the increase in the number of people without insurance in 1992 was that fewer people working for small companies received coverage, the institute said.

Among the 2.2 million non-elderly Americans who lost insurance between 1991 and 1992, 42 percent were in families in which the head of the family worked for a company with fewer than 10 employees.

About 15 percent of the total population, or 38.9 million people of all ages, had no health insurance in 1992. Of those who were insured, 58.8 percent received coverage through their jobs.

The E.B.R.I., a nonprofit research group based in Washington, analyzed health-insurance figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

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