One-third of Native Americans lack health insurance
Nearly one-third of all Native Americans lack health insurance, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.

According to the data, 32.1 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives went without health coverage from 2005-2007. That's more than twice the national average of 15.4 percent.

The rate is even higher than the three-year averages reported by the Census Bureau in 2005 and 2006. But it's about the same as the one reported last year.

Translated into numbers, about 809,000 Native Americans lacked health insurance from 2005-2007, the Census Bureau said. That's higher than the 748,000 from last year's report.

The data was found in the report "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2007." Despite the title, the Census Bureau only provided information about health insurance rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Poverty rates and income levels among Native Americans were not reported on a national level this year. That makes is difficult to determine whether any progress is being made.

According to the Census Bureau's report covering the year 2005, 25.3 percent of Native Americans lived in poverty. That was the highest rate among all racial and ethnic groups.

That same report showed the median income for American Indian and Alaska Native families to be $33,627 a year. That was lower than incomes for White, Asian and Hispanic households

Nationally, the median household incomes have risen 1.3 percent, representing the third annual increase. Without data for Native Americans, though, it's not possible to compare to the rest of the population.

The year 2005 was the last time poverty and income data for Native Americans was presented on a national level by the Census Bureau.

Poverty rates among the entire population remained unchanged, according to the latest report. And more and more Americans are obtaining health coverage, the Census Bureau said, demonstrating progress not seen among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The Census Bureau used to count people whose only source of care was the Indian Health Service as insured. But since 1988, IHS-only patients are considered uninsured.

"The effect of this change on the overall estimates of health insurance coverage was negligible," the report stated.

Separate from the income, poverty and insurance data, the Census Bureau released data from the 2007 American Community Survey for all states and congressional districts, and for metropolitan areas, counties, cities and American Indian/Alaska Native areas of 65,000 population or more.

A total of 12 American Indian/Alaska Native areas met the 65,000 population threshold, according to the data. Seven of these tribal areas were located in Oklahoma, which has the second highest Native population in the U.S.

In the Cherokee Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area, 27.1 percent of Native Americans lived in poverty. In the Choctaw area, 19.1 percent were below the poverty level.

In the Navajo area, which covers the states of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, 37.5 percent lived below the poverty level. In the Lumbee area in North Carolina, 24.1 percent lived in poverty.

Census Bureau Data:
Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007 | Press Release

Prior Reports:
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005 | Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004

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