81% of Low-Income Adults Don’t Qualify for Public Health Care
A Families USA report released last week revealed that 81% of low-income, uninsured adults -- more than 13 million individuals -- do not qualify for Medicaid or other public health coverage in the state in which they reside. The report, which examined uninsured adult parents and non-parents with annual incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level -- $29,260 for a family of three -- found that parents in families of three who work full time and earn minimum wage -- $5.15 per hour -- have "too much income" to qualify for Medicaid in 26 states. The study, based on an analysis of the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Census Bureau Current Population Surveys, also revealed that in 37 states, parents in families of three must have annual incomes less than $15,000 to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, the report found that "penniless" adults without children do not qualify for Medicaid in 40 states "unless they are severely disabled." According to the study, states have "extensive flexibility" to establish their own Medicaid eligibility requirements and do not have to cover all low-income residents, leaving a "vast majority" of uninsured adults "ineligible for public health coverage" ("The Health Care Safety Net: Millions of Low Income People Left Uninsured," July 2001). "For uninsured low-income adults, the health care safety net is wholly inadequate," Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack said, adding, "Many millions of low-wage, working adults who don't have employer health coverage and who can't afford to buy coverage are left unprotected by public health programs in their states" (Families USA release, 7/19). The Families USA report is available at
http://www.familiesusa.org/media/pdf/holesreport.pdf. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.