Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Number of insured drops for first time

By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of people with health insurance in the United States dropped for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday.

There were 253.6 million people with health insurance in 2009, the latest data available, down from 255.1 million a year earlier.

This marks the first time that a decline was noted in the number of people with health insurance since the government started collecting insurance coverage data in 1987.

"This is a pretty dramatic development. It's not just a percentage drop but a drop in the actual number of people who had health insurance," said Deborah Chollet, senior fellow and health economist with Washington-based Mathematica Policy Research.

The number of insured people has been rising untill now. The first-time fall may now be another factor speeding up the increase in the ranks of the uninsured.

"It also points to the obvious need for health reform," Chollet said.

"Historically what we've seen during recessions and then job recovery is that when unemployed people find new jobs, more of the newly employed find jobs that don't offer health coverage," she said. "This may be happening now."

More uninsured. The percentage of people without health insurance increased to 16.7 percent, or 50.7 million in 2009 from 46.3 million in 2008.

Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased to 194.5 million from 201.0 million. The number covered by employment-based health insurance also declined to 169.7 million from 176.3 million.

The number covered by government health insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid climbed to 93.2 million from from 87.4 million.

Anyone who hasn't had insurance coverage at any time during a full year is considered to be uninsured by the government. So people who lost their jobs and their health insurance aren't considered uninsured until they've been without insurance for a full year.

The Current Population Survey is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. (MoreTo top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,058.35 -469.68 -2.84%
Nasdaq 4,636.11 -140.40 -2.94%
S&P 500 1,913.85 -58.33 -2.96%
Treasuries 2.17 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 5:19pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.58 -0.76 -4.65%
Apple Inc 107.72 -5.04 -4.47%
General Electric Co 23.88 -0.94 -3.79%
Ford Motor Co 13.72 -0.15 -1.08%
Microsoft Corp 41.82 -1.70 -3.91%
Data as of 4:03pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

McDonald's has been testing an all-day breakfast menu in several markets for months. Now it has said when the change will go nationwide: October 6. More

Iran could be pumping more than four million barrels of oil a day by the end of 2016, the country's oil minister tells CNN in an exclusive interview. More

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the largest ever fleet of commercial drones owned by a company called Measure. More

How do you run a successful crowdfunding campaign? Indiegogo's CEO Slava Rubin offers his top tips and mistakes to avoid. More

Joe is 50 years old and makes $70,000 a year. He should already have $364,000 saved for retirement. Are you on track? More