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More than 17 Million Continuously Uninsured; One-Third Are Middle Income

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: October 3, 2007

More than 17 million Americans under age 65—nearly a third of whom are middle income—could be considered continuously uninsured. This means that they have not had health insurance to help cover their medical bills for at least 4 years, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Middle-income Americans are defined as living in families earning between 200 percent and 400 percent of the Federal poverty thresholds, which vary according to family size and composition. In 2004, the base year for these data, poverty level income for a family of four averaged $19,307.

The AHRQ data examined Americans who were continuously uninsured for at least 4 years between 2002 and 2005, as well as those who were uninsured for shorter periods during those years. The AHRQ data also show that:

  • Poor Americans—those in families with incomes at or below the Federal poverty line—comprised about one quarter of the continuously uninsured.
  • By contrast, less than 10 percent of the continuously uninsured were people who lived in families with incomes greater than 400 percent of the Federal poverty standard.
  • Fully 17 percent of Hispanics were continuously uninsured, compared with 7 percent of Blacks, and 4 percent of Whites.
  • Some 12 percent of people 25 to 29 years of age were continuously uninsured, followed by Americans ages 18 to 24 years (11 percent), 30 to 34 years (10 percent), 35 to 54 years (8 percent), and 55 to 64 years (5 percent). However, only 2 percent of children and adolescents under 18 years of age were continuously uninsured.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a highly detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

For more information, access MEPS Statistical Brief No. 183, The Long-Term Uninsured in America, 2002-2005: Estimates for the U.S. Population under Age 65 (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of October 2007.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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