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 17,959.44 154.64 0.87%
Nasdaq 4,781.42 16.04 0.34%
S&P 500 2,078.54 7.89 0.38%
Treasuries 2.16 -0.01 -0.64%
Data as of 7:13pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.90 -15.55 -14.34%
Bank of America Corp... 17.71 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 112.94 1.16 1.04%
General Electric Co 25.71 0.09 0.35%
Facebook Inc 81.45 1.57 1.97%
Data as of 4:00pm ET

Sections

Private equity titan CEO David Rubenstein drops some rhymes in a holiday message to investors. More

Sure you could spend more this holiday, but your better bet is to put the money you save in your 401(k). More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Retired union workers could see their pensions cut under a controversial new law, but many say they're not sure how they'll make ends meet if big cuts go through. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices 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.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.