Higher Health Insurance Costs Could Cause Increase in Number of Uninsured Children in California
Half of California's poorest children will receive health coverage from publicly funded programs and 20% will be uninsured by 2010 if health insurance cost increases are not addressed, according to a study from researchers at the University of California-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and Working Partnerships USA, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the study, there is a 0.6% decline in employer-sponsored coverage for children for every 10% increase in health care premiums. Fifty-five percent of California employers offered a family health plan in 2000, while 54% offered such plans in 2003. Over the same time period, the average employer premium increased by 43% to $8,422, and the average employee contribution increased by 73% to $2,552 (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 9/23).
If premiums increase by 10% annually through 2010, 49% of children would receive coverage from employer-sponsored plans, according to the study. Nearly one-third of California children would receive health care benefits through government-funded programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families -- about 470,000 more children than are currently enrolled -- and 14% of California children would have no insurance because they would not qualify for government programs and their families likely would be unable to afford insurance, according to the study.
The study estimates that 280,000 additional children would be uninsured by 2010 (Schwanhausser, San Jose Mercury News, 9/23).
However, the studies also found that the percentage of children with health insurance increased from 83% in 2000 to 88% in 2004. The Los Angeles Times attributed the increase to more children being enrolled in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families (Vrana, Los Angeles Times, 9/23).