More Americans Insured, But Concerns Remain

The number of Americans without health insurance coverage declined from 2006 to 2007, according to U.S. Census data released Tuesday -- an encouraging finding for the many small businesses and advocacy groups that consider the issue a top priority.

The number of uninsured Americans dropped from 47 million, or 15.8 percent in 2006 to 45.7 million or 15.3 percent in 2007.

However, the health insurance reform group National Coalition on Health Care said that the data behind the aggregate findings portray "trends that should worry every American."

The proportion of Americans receiving coverage through their employers continued to decline, although just slightly -- from 59.7 percent in 2006 to 59.3 percent in 2007. The number of Americans who purchased individual or family coverage also dropped, from 9.1 percent to 8.9 percent.

The coalition, which bills itself as nonprofit and nonpartisan, said, "put simply, the number of uninsured Americans would have increased in 2007 -- for the seventh year in a row -- but for expansions in public programs," that might be difficult to maintain as the economy falters and budgets shrink.

In the new data, the Census also reported that real median household income rose 1.3 percent to $50,233, while the official poverty rate remained unchanged. In 2007, women who worked full-time, year-round earned 78 percent of what their male counterparts earned. Both sexes saw an increase in real median earnings, with men earning $45,113 in 2007 and women earning $35,102, compared with earnings of $43,460 and $33,437 respectively in 2006. These increases in earnings follow three years of annual declines for both men and women.

The full report includes income, poverty and earnings data for all states and congressional districts as well as for areas in the U.S. with a population of 65,000 or more.

The Small Business blog is twittering at PostSmallBiz.

By Sharon McLoone |  August 27, 2008; 2:14 PM ET Data Points
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