Employer-Sponsored Coverage Declines
The decline in the number of employers offering health insurance has lead to a rise in the percentage of U.S. residents who are uninsured, according to two issue papers released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured at an Alliance for Health Reform briefing, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The papers use U.S. Census Bureau figures released in August that found the percentage of the population who are uninsured rose from 15.6% to 15.9%, or 46.6 million people, in 2005. The Census figures also show that the number of uninsured children younger than 18 has increased for the first time in seven years (Hopkins, CQ HealthBeat, 10/19).
The reports indicate that despite an upturn in the economy, the percentage of U.S. workers covered by employer-sponsored insurance declined from 81.2% in 2001 to 77.4% in 2005 , the Detroit Free Press reports (Detroit Free Press, 10/20).
In addition, there was no increase in Medicaid and SCHIP coverage last year to compensate for the decline in employer-sponsored health care, according to John Holahan, director of the Health Policy Research Center at the Urban Institute (CQ HealthBeat, 10/19).
Nearly half of the decline in employer coverage between 2001 and 2005 was due to a decrease in employer sponsorship; a quarter of the decline was lost eligibility for workers or dependents; and another quarter was due to an increase in employees not participating in offered coverage. The analysis found that two-thirds of newly uninsured employees between 2001 and 2005 were from low-income families (Kaiser Family Foundation release, 10/19).
The analysis indicates that the number of uninsured U.S. residents parallels a population shift toward the South and West, where there are higher rates of uninsured workers than in other regions of the country (Miami Herald, 10/20).