The story

Participation in government health insurance programs -- particularly those aimed at children -- increased from 2006 to 2007, leading to a decrease in the number of Americans lacking insurance, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.

Overall, 45.7 million people, or 15.3 percent of U.S. residents, did not have health insurance in 2007, the bureau said in releasing reports on poverty, income and insurance. That represents a decrease from the 2006 level of 47 million, or 15.8 percent.

The decrease came as a surprise, as the number of uninsured Americans had been expected to rise for a seventh straight year. It also gives a boost to proponents of expanding government health-care plans such as the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

In December, President Bush signed legislation that extends SCHIP federal funding through the end of March 2009. That action came after Bush vetoed two congressional attempts to expand the program. In vetoing one of the measures, Bush said the proposed expansion "moves our country's health-care system in the wrong direction."

The percentages of people covered by private health insurance and by employment-based health insurance both decreased slightly in 2007, the Census numbers showed, although the number of those covered by employment-based insurance, 177.4 million, was not statistically different from 2006. Read full article »

CNN's Tom Watkins contributed to this report.

All About Health Care PolicyU.S. Census Bureau

Don't Miss

Health Library