Fewer Uninsured Thanks to Employer Sponsored Plans

September 29, 2000 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Thanks to an increase in employer-sponsored health coverage, the total number of uninsured Americans fell for the first time in 12 years, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The total number of Americans without health insurance declined to 42.6 million from 44.3 million, and the proportion to 15.5% from 16.3% in 1998.

It was the first time the number of people without health insurance decreased since the Census Bureau began tracking the data in 1987.

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The number of uninsured children fell by 1.5% to 13.9% (10 million), according to the Census Bureau’s annual report on health insurance coverage in America.

Employer-provided Insurance Drives Change

The two factors most responsible for the drop were:

  • An increase in the number of employers offering health coverage as a way to lure or keep workers in a tight labor market and healthy economy, and
  • The Child Health Insurance Program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to assist low-income families.

The report also showed:

  • 62.8% of Americans had coverage through an employment-related health insurance plan, up from 62% in 1998
  • 13.2% of Americans were covered by Medicare, the same as 1998
  • 10.2% were covered by Medicaid, down 0.1% from 1998.

Economics, Demographics Matter

However, the report also indicated that nearly a third (32.4%) of those below the poverty line are uninsured, as well as 47.5% of low-income, full-time workers.

Once again the Census Bureau found that adults age 18-24 remained the least likely of any age group to have coverage, but their chance of having coverage increased 1% in 1999.

The proportion of people lacking health insurance ranged from 8.8% in Minnesota to 24.1% in Texas, based on three-year averages. The Census Bureau cautioned that the uninsured rate for Texas was not statistically different than Arizona, nor was Minnesota’s rate statistically different from Rhode Island or Hawaii.

Texas was among 15 states where the proportion of people without health coverage dropped, along with Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

The proportion of people without health insurance increased in Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Census Bureau report is at http://www.census.gov/prod/2000pubs/p60-211.pdf