Health Coverage Fails to Spread

August 23, 2002 ( - Despite an economic boom, the late 1990s didn't see much expansion in the number of workers covered by employer-provided healthcare.

About three in four people under age 65 in working families got health insurance from an employer in 2001, statistically unchanged from 1997, according to the report by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

According to an Associated Press news report about the study, relatively stable health costs during the 1997 to 2001 period and strong employee demand should have helped boost insurance coverage – but it didn’t. In 2001, there were 189 million people under age 65 in working families. Of them, 75.6% had insurance through an employer.

“These findings tell us that relying on economic growth to reduce the number of uninsured won’t work,” Paul B. Ginsburg, president of the research center, told the Associated Press. .

What coverage increases there were came thanks to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, which was created in 1997 and now covers more than three million children. It typically offers insurance on a sliding scale, with parents who earn more money paying a higher portion of the premium.

The study results are based on a telephone survey conducted in 1996-97 and again in 1998-99 and 2000-01. Each survey gathered information about 60,000 people.