20 Million Employed Adults Lacked Health Insurance in 2002, Study Finds
More than 20 million employed U.S. adults lacked health insurance in 2002, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CongressDaily reports. In the study, researchers from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota analyzed data collected by CDC and found that in 38 states one in 10 employed adults in 2002 lacked health insurance and that in six states one in five lacked coverage (Rovner, CongressDaily, 5/5). According to the report, Texas had the highest rate of employed adults who lacked health insurance in 2002 with 27%, followed by Louisiana with 23%, Mississippi and New Mexico with 22% each and Oklahoma and Nevada with 21% each. Minnesota and Hawaii had the lowest rate of employed adults who lacked health insurance in 2002 with 7% each, followed by Maryland with 8% and Iowa with 9%, the study found. In addition, the study indicated that adults who lacked health insurance were less likely to receive preventive care, less likely to have a primary care physician and more likely to "rate their own health as only poor or fair" than those with coverage, the New York Times reports. The study also found disparities among employed Hispanic, African-American and white adults. In 2002, 35% of employed Hispanic adults lacked health insurance, compared to 18% of employed African-American adults and 11% of employed white adults, according to the study (Toner, New York Times, 5/5). RWJF released the report as part of "Cover the Uninsured Week," a media campaign led by the foundation that will run from May 10-16 to raise awareness about U.S. residents who lack health insurance (CongressDaily, 5/5).
Analysts said that the study highlighted "deep problems in a health care system that still assumes most people will get their coverage through their employers," the Times reports (Toner, New York Times, 5/5). Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, said, "I think this puts a different face on the uninsured. When people have a sense that it is someone like my neighbor -- or it could be me -- it does give you a different political face to work from." Organizers of "Cover the Uninsured Week," co-chaired by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, said that in 2005 they plan to lobby Congress to pass legislation to address the issue of the uninsured (Sherman, AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/5). Next week the House will debate three health care bills to "pressure the Senate to pass legislation to get more Americans covered and to reduce the cost of health care," according to a House Republican aide. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) plans to speak at a news conference to launch "Cover the Uninsured Week" (CongressDaily, 5/5).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on for-profit hospitals' reporting financial losses this year because of a "sharp increase" in bad debt in part caused by "a growing number" of uninsured patients. According to David Haushalter, an analyst at Susquehanna International Group, patients with health insurance are also increasingly failing to make hospital payments as they "bear a larger and larger burden of the health care expense" as employers increase deductibles and copayments. The segment also includes comments from Stuart Altman, health economist and professor of national health policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University; and Frank Morgan, a health care analyst at Jefferies (Prakash, "Morning Edition," NPR, 5/5). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.