According to a recent analysis conducted at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, middle-aged adults were hit hardest by the ‘Great Recession’, which occurred between 2007 and 2009.
The study, titled “The Effects of the Great Recession on Health Insurance: Changes in the Uninsured Population from 2007 to 2009”, gathered data on the number of Californians who were uninsured between 2007 and 2009.
Results revealed that 700,000 people in the state lost their health insurance during this time. The biggest increase was among those aged between 45 and 64 years.
Shana Alex Lavarreda, lead author of the study and the center’s director of health insurance studies, said:
“Whether because mid-career workers are viewed as too expensive or because there is a deeper bias against older workers, the data suggests the axe is first to fall on the baby boom generation. This might open the door for policymakers to question the fairness of hiring and firing in the next economic cycle.”
The number of people in California without health insurance increased by more than 10 percent to 7.1 million during the Great Recession. At the same time the unemployment rate more than doubled from 5.5 percent to 12.3 percent.
The authors of the study used information from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). They created a “recession index” by examining economic variations by county.
The index took into account increases in unemployment and reductions in household income. The authors divided California’s 58 different counties according to the impact of recession (either low, moderate, medium, and high).
“High” impact counties (such as Merced and San Joaquin) saw a slight decline in the number of uninsured people, from 22.5 percent in 2007 to 21.5 percent in 2009. This was mainly because of public health programs such as “Healthy Families” and “Medi-Cal”.
“The safety net did its job during the Great Recession. Programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families kept the problem from getting worse and demonstrated once again the importance of public programs during economic downturns.”
The counties that were hit the hardest were the “medium impact” counties, which saw a 5 percent increase in the number of people uninsured between 2007 and 2009 (from 20.8 percent to 26.2 percent).
According to Lavarreda these “medium” counties were likely “not poor enough to tap into public programs yet not wealthy enough to survive the economic storm.”
The uninsured population became older following the recession and there was a significant increase among those between 45 and 64 years of age.
People who were uninsured became poorer. Most of the increase in the percent of people uninsured was due to unemployment and subsequent loss of job-based coverage. The percentage of people in California who were uninsured, unemployed and seeking a job more than doubled in all counties.
The researchers used information from the California Employment Development Department and the 2007 and 2009 California Health Interview Survey.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals and companies in the US during the 2007/8 credit crunch went bankrupt or lost their homes because lending by banks declined considerably.