Study: Nearly 25% of California Residents Lack Health Coverage
California's uninsured population grew to 8.2 million in 2009, up from 6.4 million in 2007, according toÂ a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Los Angeles Times reports.
For the study, researchers conducted telephone interviews in 2007 and updated the information with current health insurance enrollment data. The study excluded adults over age 65, who qualify for Medicare coverage.
Researchers found that about 24.3% of CaliforniaÂ residents younger than age 65 were uninsured for part or all of 2009. Among respondents older than age 18, about one in three lacked insurance for all or part of the year.
In addition, the study found that the percentage of children without health insurance rose from 10.2% in 2007 to 13.4% in 2009. During that time, the total number of uninsured California children increased from 1.1 million to 1.5 million.
Contributing Factors, Implications
Researchers suggest that the number of uninsured children might have been significantly higher if state and federal children's health insurance programs had not providedÂ substantial support.
The study also noted that the rise in California's uninsured population occurred at the same time that the state's unemployment rate increased from 5.7% in 2007 to 12.3% by the end of 2009. During that period, some employers shifted more health care costs to workers.
Researchers predict that more people will join the ranks of the uninsured in the coming year, partly because California's jobless rate is not expected to drop significantly.
In addition, experts say many Californians without coverage are postponing medical care or seeking treatment at emergency departments, which could contribute to a rise inÂ overall health care costs (Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).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.