factfinder US Census Bureau

The uninsured: who are they?

We did a statistical survey using U.S. Census Bureau information here in New York, and some of the results are surprising.

For some time, the stereotypical picture of the  person lacking health insurance has been this: unemployed, maybe undocumented, even hapless.

Well, no more. A quick look at the statistics tells us otherwise. A total of 51 million Americans lack health insurance, a number that can be attributed to many factors: rising premiums, the recession, joblessness, the high cost of care.

A deeper look at the statistics for New York City is also revealing. Here’s an analysis, from the Census Bureau FactFinder.  We crunched the numbers to find that in New York County (Manhattan), 176,862 people are uninsured. Here’s a bit about them:

  • 35 percent of them had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 36.8 percent of them worked full-time in the past 12 months
  • 25 percent are involved in the arts, entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food services.  Next are professional services and retail trade, at 13.8 and 13.9 percent of the total.
  • 52.5 percent are native-born citizens and 11.1 percent are naturalized citizens, meaning 36.4 percent are noncitizens.

Here’s another look at the uninsured, this time in Texas. This is from The Texas Tribune, where Becca Aaronson writes:

“Nearly a quarter of the Texas population lacked health insurance in 2010, according to the most recent data released by the American Community Survey, which the U.S. Census Bureau conducted. That’s more than 5.7 million Texans.

“It’s likely that someone you know — and probably one you wouldn’t have guessed — doesn’t have health insurance. More than half of the uninsured are employed. More than a third have an annual household income above $50,000. And more than 1 million have college experience or post-secondary degrees.” The interactive graphs, featured here, show some other things: two-thirds of the uninsured are native-born, with the remainder being non-citizens or naturalized citizens (a tiny sliver).


Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...