success stories

Posted October 7, 2003

Latest statistics on Americans without health insurance

2.4 million more Americans have no health insurance. The Census Bureau reported Sept. 30 that 43.6 million Americans had no health insurance during 2002, up from 41.2 million the year before. The number of people who have health insurance also increased, by 1.5 million, to 242.4 million in 2002.

The Census Bureau reports that the nation's poverty rate rose from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.1 percent in 2002. In other words, more Americans were living below the poverty level, which was set by the Office of Management and Budget for 2002 at $18,392 for a family of four; $14,348 for a family of three; $11,756 for a family of two; and $9,183 for an individual.

The only good news in the newly released statistics was the fact that both the child poverty rate and the percentage of children without health insurance remained unchanged between 2001 and 2002.

The lived experience of those trying to manage on little money in the United States shows that the amount needed to sustain a family of four is closer to $35,000 annually than to the $18,392 threshold. Part of the problem is that the current figure reflects an outdated formula from the 1960s, when food costs were higher relative to income and housing costs lower.