EMPLOYER-BASED INSURANCE: Covers Fewer Minority Workers
A new study shows that even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, minorities are 21% less likely than whites to have employer-sponsored health insurance, prompting a call for public and private efforts to boost coverage for minority workers. The study found that 69% of whites have coverage through their employer, versus 52% of blacks and 44% of Hispanics. "Minority groups have lower rates of health care coverage because they are more likely to work in industries that do not provide coverage, hold part-time jobs and have lower incomes. But those trends account for only part of the story. Other factors should be investigated, such as increasingly unaffordable premiums," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, which sponsored the study. Study author Allyson Hall, program officer for the Commonwealth Fund, said, "Certain groups may decline health care coverage not only because of financial concerns, but also because of differing perceptions regarding the propensity to become ill and the overall need for health care coverage."
The study calls on policymakers to reduce barriers such as out- of-pocket costs, which have risen as employers shift premium hikes to employees, a move which disproportionately affects low wage workers. The authors argue coverage could be extended through three strategies:
- Mandate employer-sponsored coverage for all workers and provide tax breaks to help employers pay for it.
- Expand government-sponsored insurance by allowing immigrants to receive Medicaid benefits.
- Allow low income, uninsured workers to buy subsidized coverage through state employee insurance plans or through Medicaid.