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

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,987.51 -61.49 -0.36%
Nasdaq 4,567.60 -24.21 -0.53%
S&P 500 1,985.54 -11.91 -0.60%
Treasuries 2.61 0.08 3.28%
Data as of 5:51am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.79 0.22 1.33%
Microsoft Corp 46.70 -0.30 -0.65%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.16 -0.02 -0.08%
Intel Corp 34.62 -0.40 -1.14%
Regions Financial Co... 10.35 0.07 0.68%
Data as of Sep 12

Sections

Uber isn't going head-to-head with FexEx, but it is claiming a piece of the delivery market. More

It's game time for the Fed this week, and investors are trying to read its playbook on interest rate hikes. More

Atlanta has the country's highest level of income inequality, but civic entrepreneurs can close the gap. Here's how. More

An extended time off from work can give you renewed energy for the job you have or give you time to figure out what you really want to do. Here are 8 lessons learned. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.