Health coverage gap filled by public insurance

The health coverage gap that grew since 2001 was filled by public insurance, says a new study carried out at the Center for Health Policy Research at UCLA.

From 2001 until the Affordable Care Act came into force, the percentage of people in California who were covered by public health insurance programs rose progressively.

The study authors believe this was in response to the loss of job-based health coverage throughout the state.

The study is “the most recent comprehensive statewide source of information on health insurance trends.”

In 2011, less than 50% of non-elderly Californian residents received employer-based insurance, six percentage points less than in 2001. For the following year, until 2012, the figure stayed at just below 50%.

Public health programs, including Healthy Families and Medi-Cal provided coverage for almost 20% of Californians in 2012, three percentage points more than in 2009 and five more than in 2001.

While one steps out of health coverage, another steps in

While employer-based health coverage fell, public programs increased:

health coverage

Lead author, Shana Alex Lavarreda, who is also the center’s director of health insurance studies, said:

“In effect, public programs have stepped in as employers have stepped out. The data refutes any lingering arguments that employer-based insurance is the solution to our health care coverage crisis.”

While employment figures improve after the Great Recession, many new jobs do not provide affordable health insurance benefits, thus depriving employees of an important source of health coverage.

A total of 52.1% of Californians had employment-based health insurance in 2009, compared to 49.5% in 2012.

Unemployment rates in California fell from 20% in 2009 to 9.8% in 2012. However, the proportion of non-elderly adults with job-based health coverage has stayed below 50%.

President and CEO of The California Endowment, Dr. Robert K. Ross, said:

“The steady decline in employer-based health coverage affirms the need for Obamacare. For the first time in history, health coverage is within the reach of many more Californians who aren’t covered by job-based health insurance.”

Colburn S. Wilbur, interim president and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation, added “These data make it clear that many Californian families are still struggling financially and will need to access low- or no-cost health coverage. The state’s Covered California online marketplace makes it easy to apply for coverage whether through a public plan like Medi-Cal or one of the private insurance programs offered.”

The study was funded by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.