Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Health Care Costs and Financing

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

One-fourth of America's non-elderly poor go years without the protection of health insurance

According a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 24.2 percent of poor Americans under age 65 (3.8 million people) reported being continuously uninsured for at least 4 years when surveyed in 2003. Not being insured refers to private health insurance as well as government programs such as Medicaid.

Poor Americans, those whose income is equal to or less than the poverty level, represented 12.6 percent of the U.S. population under age 65. Alternately, high-income Americans, who made up 37.6 percent of the under 65 population, accounted for only 10 percent of those continuously uninsured from 2000 to 2003, according to AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

Nearly 4 in 10 (37.8 percent) of Americans under age 65 who were chronically uninsured were Hispanic even though they represented just 15 percent of the nation's non-elderly population. In contrast, non-Hispanic whites comprised 66 percent of the under 65 population but only 43.8 percent of the long-term uninsured for the entire 2000 to 2003 period.

For more information, go to The Long-term Uninsured in America, 2000-2003: Estimates for the U.S. Population under Age 65 on the MEPS Web site at [PDF Help].

Editor's Note: MEPS collects information each year from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households about health care use, expenses, access, health status, and quality. MEPS is a unique government survey because of the degree of detail in its data, as well as its ability to link data on health services spending and health insurance to demographic, employment, economic, health status, and other characteristics of individuals and families. For more information, go to the MEPS Web site at

Return to Contents
Proceed to Next Article

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


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care