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Number of Uninsured Americans Drops
Date:8/26/2008

e health insurance dropped slightly from 67.9 percent in 2006 to 67.5 percent in 2007. And, people covered by employer-based insurance dropped to 59.3 percent in 2007 from 59.7 percent in 2006, according to the report.

People getting their health insurance through Medicaid increased from 38.3 million in 2006 to 39.6 million in 2007.

Among whites, blacks and Hispanics, the number of uninsured dropped. For non-Hispanic whites, the number of uninsured declined from 10.8 percent to 2006 to 10.4 percent in 2007. Among blacks, the number of uninsured dipped from 20.5 percent in 2006 to 19.5 percent in 2007. For Hispanics, the number of uninsured fell from 34.1 percent in 2006 to 32.1 percent in 2007.

Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that seeks to promote a high-performing health care system for all Americans, thinks that the drop in the number of uninsured supports the argument for government-sponsored health insurance programs.

"This is really a bit of a surprise," Davis said. "But when you look at what's really going on, the number of uninsured dropped by 1.3 million, and the increase in coverage under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) went up by 1.3 million," she said.

This shows the importance of government-funded safety nets, she said.

Davis noted that in Massachusetts, which has a government-sponsored health insurance program, the uninsured rate was 4.7 percent in 2007, compared with 25.5 percent in Texas, which does not have such a program. "You just see the difference the new Massachusetts health reform plan has made in improving coverage," she said.

And though the number of uninsured has declined, there's much work to be done, Davis said. She said: "45.7 million people who are uninsured is still a major problem. There is no cause for celebration that we only have 45.7 million uninsured. There is still a very serious probl
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