Thursday, November 01, 2007

Decline in employer health coverage is pervasive

Remember during last year's gubernatorial debate when Dick DeVos said, "The best way to get health care is to get a job?" Voters across the state laughed about that one all the way to the election booth (where they soundly voted against him), so this article from Reuters won't be a surprise to them.
The number of Americans lacking health insurance rose by nearly 8.6 million to 47 million from 2000 to 2006, with children and workers from every income level losing coverage, a new report said on Thursday.

The increase was "driven primarily by the continued erosion in employer-provided health insurance," said the report by the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

In 2006, 2.3 million fewer Americans received health benefits from their employers than in 2000, the report said, noting the decline does not take the population increase into account.

Nearly 60 percent of the nation's children are covered by the insurance provided by their parents' employers, but 3.4 million fewer children had benefits in 2006 compared with 2000.

"Public health insurance is no longer offsetting these losses," said the report by the nonpartisan think-tank.

For jobholders, this was the sixth straight year of declines in health insurance coverage. The rate fell to just below 71 percent from nearly 75 percent in 2000.

"No category of workers was insulated from loss of coverage," as even workers whose earnings placed them in the top quintile saw coverage rates fall, the report said.

"The decline in employer coverage was pervasive and felt throughout the country," the report said.

Thirty-eight states saw "significant" drops in benefits provided by employers for people under 65, the report said. Utah, South Carolina, Maryland and Georgia all saw rates drop by at least 7 percentage points. [all emphasis mine]
No wonder a majority of Americans favor a Medicare-For-All type plan. Employment is no longer a guarantee of health insurance.

(Cross-posted at BFM.)

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