Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 1993 Current Population Survey

January 1994
EBRI Issue Brief #145 | Special Report SR-20
Paperback, 28 pp.
PDF, 436 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 1994

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Executive Summary

  • This Issue Brief/Special Report examines the extent of health insurance coverage in the United States, the characteristics of the uninsured population by employment status, firm size, industry, income, location, family type, gender and age, race and origin, and education, as well as how the uninsured population has changed over the last several years.
  • Eighty-three percent of nonelderly Americans and 99 percent of elderly Americans (aged 65 and over) were covered by either public or private health insurance in 1992, according to EBRI tabulations of the March 1993 Current Population Survey (CPS). The March 1993 CPS is the most recent data available on the number and characteristics of uninsured Americans.
  • In 1992, 17.4 percent of the nonelderly population—or 38.5 million people—were not covered by private health insurance and did not receive publicly financed health assistance. This compares with 36.3 million in 1991 (16.6 percent), 35.7 million in 1990 (16.5 percent), 34.4 million in 1989 (16.1 percent), and 33.6 million in 1988 (15.9 percent).
  • The most important determinant of health insurance coverage is employment. Nearly two-thirds of the nonelderly (62.5 percent) have employment-based coverage. Workers were much more likely to be covered by employment-based health plans than nonworkers (71 percent, compared with 40 percent).
  • A primary reason for the increase in the number of uninsured between 1991 and 1992 is a decline in employment-based coverage among individuals (and their families) working for small firms. Forty-two percent of the additional 2.2 million individuals without coverage between 1991 and 1992 were in families in which the family head worked for an employer with fewer than 25 employees.
  • The number of children who were uninsured in 1992 was 9.8 million, or 14.8 percent of all children. This compares with 9.5 million and 14.7 percent in 1991. The increase in the number and proportion of uninsured children was partially offset by an increase in the proportion of children with Medicaid.
  • In 12 states and the District of Columbia, more than 20 percent of the population was uninsured in 1992 (table 3). These states and their uninsured rates were Nevada (26.6 percent), Oklahoma (25.8 percent), Louisiana (25.7 percent), Texas (25.7 percent), the District of Columbia (25.5 percent), Florida (24.2 percent), Arkansas (23.5 percent), Mississippi (22.7 percent), New Mexico (22.5 percent), Georgia (22.4 percent), California (22.2 percent), South Carolina (20.8 percent) and Alabama (20.1 percent).