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The Uninsured in the March 1997 Current Population Survey

Publication Date
Nov 17, 1997

Charts from Tabulations by ASPE

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Department of Health and Human Services
Prepared by Gene Moyer 202-690-7861

Author: Gene Moyer




  • The March 1997 Current Population Survey is one of our major sources of data on persons without Health Insurance in 1996.
  • One Caveat is in order. The survey does not ask persons if they were without health insurance. Rather an "uninsured" person is one who did not say that he had one of the forms of health insurance mentioned earlier.
  • This means that if someone fails to indicate that he has one of the five coverage types when he does, he will erroneously be counted as uninsured as well as not counted as insured.

Probability of Being Uninsured by Characteristics of Persons

  • In the charts which follow, the height of the bar represents the probability that someone with the characteristic was uninsured in 1996.


  • In the following charts, one theme is dominant. Those persons who are otherwise in need tend also to be without health insurance.
  • The message in these charts is much the same as that in the charts on the distribution of the uninsured.
  • About a third of Hispanics were without health insurance in 1996.
  • 42% of non-Citizens were uninsured.
  • Almost a third of persons in poverty and a quarter of persons near poverty were uninsured.
  • A quarter of adults who had completed less than the ninth grade and a fifth of those who had completed grades nine to 12 were uninsured.
  • Living in a nuclear family seems to encourage or allow persons to be insured. Divorced, separated, and never married persons have high probabilities of being uninsured.
  • Persons living in the South and West have high probabilities of being uninsured.
  • Even those clearly not in need, however, included uninsured persons.
  • 6% of Persons with family incomes of five times poverty or higher were uninsured.
  • 8% of college graduates or persons with graduate training were uninsured.


  • Young adults between 18 and 24 years old were most likely to be without health insurance in 1996.
  • Slightly older persons aged 25 to 34 were next most likely to be without health insurance.
  • In a sense this is encouraging since young adults tend to be healthier than persons in other age groups.
  • Almost all aged persons are covered by Medicare. About 1% did not get the Medicare automatically and did not purchase the coverage.
  • Other age groups were about as likely as average to be uninsured.

Percent Uninsured by Age Class

Bar Chart


  • Men were somewhat less likely to be insured than women in 1996.
  • The availability of Medicaid for mothers of young children probably accounts for much of the higher insurance rate for women

Percent Uninsured by Gender

Bar Chart

Marital Status (Persons Aged 18 or Older)

  • In 1996, unmarried persons had the highest probability of being uninsured.
  • Separated and never married persons had approximately equally high probabilities of being uninsured. Divorced persons were also more likely to be uninsured than married or widowed persons.
  • Only 6% of widowed persons were uninsured.

Percent Uninsured by Marital Status: Persons aged 18 or Older

Bar Chart


  • Non-Hispanic white persons had the lowest probability of being uninsured in 1996 (12%). Most other groups had a probability of being uninsured somewhat above the average.
  • Hispanics were especially likely to be uninsured. Many of them are not citizens and are in poverty as well.

Probability of Being Uninsured by Race/Ethnicity - Hispanics of any race are counted as Hispanic

Bar Chart


  • Citizens, about 96% of the population, were about as likely to be uninsured as the entire population.
  • Clearly, citizenship is important in helping persons get jobs which include health insurance as part of the wage and in causing people to be eligible for public health insurance programs as well.
  • Still, 14% of citizens as well as 42% of non-citizens did not have health insurance in 1996.

Percent Uninsured by Citizenship

Bar Chart

Relationship to Family Head

  • Persons who live in a traditional family--a married couple or a single person with children--were relatively likely to have health insurance in 1996. Only 11-12% of them were uninsured.
  • Children too old to be insured as a dependent; persons related to, but not the child of the head; and persons not related to anyone else in the household were more likely than average to have been uninsured in 1996.

Percent Uninsured by Relationship to Family Head

Bar Chart

Income and Poverty

  • Persons with low family incomes were also likely to lack health insurance in 1996. The probability of being uninsured fell as income rose. Still, 69% of persons in poverty had some insurance.
  • Six percent of persons with incomes over five times the poverty line were uninsured.

Percent Uninsured by Income

Bar Chart

Education (Persons 18 Years Old or Older)

  • Adults with the highest probabilities of being uninsured were those who stopped school at or before eighth grade.
  • College graduates were unlikely to be uninsured because they are more likely to have jobs in which health insurance premiums are part of the wage.
  • Still, even among those with a degree or with graduate training, 8% were uninsured in 1996.

Percent Uninsured by Education (Persons Aged 18 or older)

Bar Chart

Health Status

  • The probability of being uninsured did not vary much by the respondent’s own assessment of health status in 1996.
  • The highest probability of being uninsured was among those who indicated that they enjoyed "good" health.
  • The lowest probabilities were among those who said they were in "poor" or "excellent" health.

Percent Uninsured by Health Status

Bar Chart

Geographic Region

  • The percent uninsured in 1996 was low in the Northeast and Midwest regions and somewhat higher in the South and the West.
  • Persons residing in the South and West Regions were more likely to be uninsured than persons in the other two regions. The race-ethnicity results, the higher incidence of poverty, and the lower incidence of employer-sponsored insurance probably explain most of these geographic results.

Percent Uninsured, with Employer Group Coverage, and in Poverty by Geographic Region

Bar Chart

Uninsured & Underinsured