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Survey finds over 46 million in US lack health insurance

WASHINGTON -- A total of 46.3 million people in the United States do not have health coverage, a trend that has been rising in the past 15 years, said a U.S. survey published Tuesday.

There was good news for children in the data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey, which showed that 7 percent of U.S. youths were uninsured last year at the time of the interview, compared to 13.9 percent in 1997.

But for adults aged 18-64, it was a different story. For that group, lack of health insurance coverage was 21.3 percent in 2011, making up 40.7 million people, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study recorded the fewest uninsured adults in 1997 (13.9 percent). The high point came in 2010 when 22.3 percent of the population was uninsured.

“There has been a generally increasing trend in the percentage of adults aged 18-64 who lacked coverage at the time of interview,” said the study, which was based on survey results from 32 of the 50 states.

The change in children's coverage status was largely explained by a 36.5-percentage-point rise in government-sponsored public coverage for the poor from 1997 to 2011.

Meanwhile, the rate of private coverage among low-income children was 25.1 percentage points lower in 2011 than in 1997.

Private coverage held by adults also declined over the period studied.

The survey comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on lawsuits challenging President Barack Obama's signature health care reform package.

The ruling could halt key parts or all of the package, which aim at requiring all citizens to have health care coverage and at creating cheaper coverage options.

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