THE UNINSURED: Coverage for Poor Kids Is Dropping
Fewer low-income workers with children are offered health care benefits by their employers, and many offered coverage cannot afford the premiums, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. According to a report released Monday by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the rate of uninsured parents rose to 35% in 1999, up from 31% in 1997. A study of roughly 30,000 families found that poor people moving off welfare "earn too much to be eligible" for federal health programs. Their employers often do not offer health care benefits or pay wages so low that they are unable to purchase insurance. "The findings of more low-income parents becoming uninsured was the most alarming," Jocelyn Guyer, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said. The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, showed that children with private coverage fell from 47% in 1997 to 42% in 1999. Roughly 33% of children in the study were covered by Medicaid and CHIP in 1999, up from 29% in 1997. Despite the increase in CHIP enrollment, the study found that 20% of kids living in families that make less than $26,000 a year lacked health insurance in 1999, which is roughly the same as in 1997. Neil Trautwein, director of employment policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, explained that insurers are charging small employers more for health care, therefore they must increase their employees premiums. "The size of their work force tends to be more volatile and more expensive for insurers and they charge higher premiums," Trautwein said (4/25).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.