Health Insurance Coverage: 2003

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The number of people with health insurance coverage increased by 1.0 million in 2003, to 243.3 million (84.4 percent of the population).

An estimated 15.6 percent of the population, or 45.0 million people, were without health insurance coverage in 2003, up from 15.2 percent and 43.6 million people in 2002.

The percentage and number of people covered by employment-based health insurance fell between 2002 and 2003, from 61.3 percent and 175.3 million to 60.4 percent and 174.0 million.

The percentage and number of people covered by government health insurance programs increased between 2002 and 2003, from 25.7 percent and 73.6 million to 26.6 percent and 76.8 million, driven by increases in the percentage and number of people covered by Medicaid (from 11.6 percent and 33.2 million to 12.4 percent and 35.6 million) and Medicare (from 13.4 percent and 38.4 million to 13.7 percent and 39.5 million).

The proportion of children who were without health insurance did not change, remaining at 11.4 percent of all children, or 8.4 million, in 2003. With an uninsured rate at 19.2 percent, children in poverty were more likely to be uninsured than all children.

The uninsured rate and number of uninsured increased from 2002 to 2003 for non-Hispanic Whites (from 10.7 percent and 20.8 million to 11.1 percent and 21.6 million), but not for Blacks or Asians. /1 Although the number of uninsured increased for Hispanics (from 12.8 million to 13.2 million), their uninsured rate was unchanged at 32.7 percent.

The historical record is marked by a 12-year period from 1987 to 1998 when the uninsured rate (12.9 percent in 1987) either increased or was unchanged from one year to the next. /2 After peaking at 16.3 percent in 1998, the rate fell for two years in a row to 14.2 percent in 2000, before the latest period of annual increases to 15.6 percent in 2003. /3


Contact: 301-763-3213

1/ This statement is correct for both concepts of Black and Asian. The uninsured rate and number of uninsured increased from 2002 to 2003 for both concepts of White, as described in the full report.

2/ The year 1987 is the first year for which comparable health insurance coverage statistics are available.

3/ The difference between the percent uninsured in 1998 and 1997 was not statistically significant.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Contact the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division at 301-763-3242 or visit for further information.


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