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News > Jobs & Economy
Survey: Uninsured on the rise
Census Bureau says 45 million Americans lacked health insurance, up from 43.5 million in 2002.
August 26, 2004: 2:37 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The number of Americans living without insurance jumped 1.4 million last year, the government said in a report on Thursday.

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The Census Department reports a rise in the number of Americans without health insurance, among them a great number of working Americans. CNNfn's Chris Huntington reports.

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The Census Bureau said one million more people were covered by health insurance in 2003, but the ranks of the uninsured swelled to 45 million from 43.6 million in 2002.

According to the data, more people were covered by Medicare and Medicaid in 2003 than in 2002, while the percentage and number of people covered by their employers fell from 61.3 percent -- 175.3 million people -- to 60.4 percent -- 174 million people.

Medicaid, on the other hand, saw an increase in people covered to 35.6 million from 33.2 million, while Medicare rose to 39.5 million people from 38.4 million.

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg pointed out that "the study" used only data from 2003 and responded to the negative insurance numbers with a campaign endorsement for President Bush.

"President Bush recognizes the challenges faced by those who lack health insurance and remains committed to ensuring that every American looking for a job is able to find one and to expanding access to affordable health care for all Americans," Gregg said in a statement released by the Bush-Cheney campaign.

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"The president reduced income taxes for all Americans who pay them and is implementing the most sweeping reform of Medicare in the program's history. As a result of the president's decisive action, Americans are taking home more of their money and Medicare recipients will be guaranteed affordable prescription drugs."

But Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry responded in a different light.

"Today confirms the failure of President Bush's policies for all Americans," Kerry said in a statement. "While George Bush tries to convince America's families that we're turning the corner, slogans and empty rhetoric can't hide the real story."

Hispanics reported the highest uninsured rate -- unchanged from 2002 at 32.7, while white non-Hispanics had the lowest uninsured rate, although it increased from 10.7 percent to 11.1 percent.

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Minority Groups

The rate for blacks held steady at about 19.5 percent, as did the rate for Asians at about 18.7 percent. Native Americans and Alaska natives also had a high rate -- 27.5 percent.

As with its poverty rate, the South was the only region to show an increase, up from 17.5 percent to 18 percent. The West (17.6 percent), the Northeast (12.9) and the Midwest (12 percent) held steady.

The Census Bureau also reported on Thursday an increase of people falling below the poverty line in 2003. The number increased to 35.9 million, up by 1.3 million.  Top of page

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