The Census Bureau recently released its 2003 Current Populations Report, which showed that more and more people are losing their private health insurance and are relying on federal and state programs for coverage.  The data here highlight the important role of federal and state programs at a time when spiraling health care costs are pushing employers to reduce or entirely cut benefits for their employees.

Forty-five million people (15.6% of Americans) did not have health care insurance coverage in 2003, up from 43.5 million (15.2%) in 2002.  Principal reasons why people were uninsured: erosion of employer-based health insurance, sluggish job growth and the rise in health care costs.  Only 60.4% of people had employer-based health insurance.  Unemployment in 2003 was 6.0%.

Enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP was up, especially for women and children, but it would have been higher if states had not cut funding to these programs.  Increased enrollment helped curb the number of uninsured, but the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 without insurance in 2003 increased to 36.3 million (20.2%).  Almost a quarter of those who were uninsured (24.2%) were in low and middle income families.  There was no substantial change in the number of uninsured elderly because of Medicare.  The percentage of people who were unable to get necessary medical care because of financial barriers rose by more than 10% between 2002 and 2003.

The percentage of those who were uninsured rose significantly (by 1% or more) from 2002 to 2003 in: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Massachusetts, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  There was a significant reduction in California (-.6%) and Utah (-1.1%).

For further information, please contact attorney Alfred Chiplin in the Center for Medicare Advocacy's Washington, DC office at (202) 293-5760 or achiplin @ medicareadvocacy.org (remove spaces).


Source: DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, Bernadette D. Proctor and Robert J. Mills.  “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports: Consumer Income (August 2004).  Available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income03.html (site visited Sept. 13, 2004).

Copyright © Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. 09/06/2013