Just under 44 million Americans had no health insurance in 2006, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Monday.

Their survey of 100,000 Americans is lower than previous federal estimates of 46 million.

"In 2006, there were 43.6 million Americans of all ages who did not have health insurance (at the time of the interview), or 14.8 percent of the population," the CDC said in a statement.

The survey, by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, found that 54.5 million Americans of all ages, or 18.6 percent of the population, had no insurance for at least part of the year in 2006.

"Among working-age Americans (those ages 18-64), there were 19.8 percent who did not have health insurance in 2006, a slight increase from 18.9 percent in 2005," the CDC added.

Providing health insurance to everyone is one of the top political issues leading up to the 2008 national election. The United States has no organized system for providing health care; most people are covered by employer-sponsored insurance.

About 43 million people over 65 are covered by Medicare, the $408 billion state-federal health insurance system for the elderly and disabled. The poor and some younger disabled people are eligible for Medicaid, another state-federal health insurance plan.

The CDC report found that 18 percent of poor adults under the age of 65 were on Medicare or Medicaid.

"Almost one-third of children (32.3 percent) were covered by a public plan, compared with 12.4 percent of adults 18 to 64 years," the report reads.

There are state and federal plans for covering children, as well, notably the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

"Approximately 9.3 percent of children under the age of 18 did not have health insurance in 2006, a decrease from 13.9 percent in 1997," the CDC report read.

Texas had the largest percentage of people without health insurance in 2006, with 23.8 percent of the population not covered, and Michigan had the lowest, at 7.7 percent, according to the report, published on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/07newsreleases/insurance.htm .