NU Online News Service, Sept. 28, 2:45 p.m. – The number of U.S. residents without health insurance declined by 600,000 between 1999 and 2000, tp 38.7 million from 39.3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

An estimated 14% of the population had no health insurance coverage during all of 2000, down from 14.3% in 1999.

“The number and percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance rose significantly in 2000, driving the overall increase in health insurance coverage,” says Robert Mills, author of the bureau’s report, “Health Insurance Coverage: 2000.”

Mirroring what happened for the total population, the number of uninsured children declined to 8.5 million, from 9.1 million. About 11.6% of children under age 18 lacked coverage in 2000, down 1% from 1999.

The bureau finds that 64.1% of the population was covered by a health plan related to employment for some or all of 2000, an increase of 0.6% over the rate for the previous year.

Donald Young, interim president of the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, reacted to the results by emphasizing that HIAA remains concerned that the number of uninsured could soon increase.

“The Center for Studying Health System Change recently reported that overall health care spending rose 7.2% in 2000,” Young says in a statement. “The HSC report warns that the cost increase will result in an increase in the number of uninsured. We are also witnessing a faltering economy with significant numbers of workers being laid off. The combination of spending increases and a weaker economy threaten to push millions of Americans into the ranks of the uninsured.”