Because of the recession, the number of Americans without health insurance reached 46.3 million last year as workers lost jobs and employers cut coverage, according to a U.S. Census report released Thursday.
In 2008, the first full year of the recession, the report found 15.4 percent of the U.S. population had no health insurance, but that number has probably grown in 2009, President Barack Obama said from the White House, the Associated Press reported.
"The situation's grown worse over the last 12 months," he said. "It's estimated that the ranks of the uninsured have swelled by at least six million."
Although higher than in 2007, the uninsured figures fall short of the peak of 47 million people in 2006 because of the expansion of government insurance programs, such as Medicaid, for the poor.
The poverty rate inched up too -- to 13.2 percent from 12.5 percent in 2007, the AP said. That meant 39.8 million Americans, or nearly one in seven, were living in poverty in 2008. For a family of four, the official poverty level is $22,025.
Geographically, most of the uninsured were in the West (17.4 percent) and the South (18.2 percent). In the Northeast and the Midwest, 11.6 percent were uninsured.