Health Update

More U.S. Children Lacking Insurance

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The proportion of children without health insurance in the United States rose from 10.8 percent in 2004 to 11.2 percent in 2005, the first uptick in the number since 1998.

Children in poverty had an uninsured rate of 19 percent in 2005, well above the rate for all children. However, the proportion of uninsured children grew even though the number of people in poverty stayed statistically the same between 2004 and 2005, at 12.6 percent.

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The proportion of uninsured Hispanic children far surpasses that of children of other ethnicities or races:

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The total proportion of people in the United States without health insurance increased from 15.6 percent in 2004 to 15.9 percent in 2005.

The statistics about uninsured children, as well as other insurance, poverty, and income information about the U.S. population, were released Aug. 29 by the U.S. Census Bureau in “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005,” the latest of a series of annual reports.

More than 70 percent of uninsured children are likely to be eligible for low-cost or free health-care coverage through one of two federal programs—the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, or Medicaid—but have not enrolled, according a separate report issued Aug. 9 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Princeton, N.J.-based philanthropy works to improve health care.

Such public programs are likely to become even more important, because the number of families who are covered by employer-funded health insurance continues to decline, said Elaine Arkin, a senior communications officer at the foundation. Also, SCHIP is up for reauthorization next year, she said.

“It’s a hold-your-breath situation,” Ms. Arkin said. “We’re hoping that there will be good news next year.”

Vol. 26, Issue 03, Page 12

Published in Print: September 13, 2006, as More U.S. Children Lacking Insurance
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