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Researchers: Group Health Access Dwindling for Some

Only 24% of U.S. residents ages 0 to 64 with household incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level had employer-sponsored health coverage in 2010, down from 42% in 2001.

Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of all nonelderly U.S. residents with health coverage fell to less than 54%, from about 64%.

Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), Washington, have published those figures in a report on employer-sponsored health coverage prepared for the National Institute for Health Care Reform, Washington. The HSC researchers based their analysis on data from a 2010 HSC survey that included responses from 13,595 nonelderly U.S. residents.

The researchers found that the percentage of people with group health coverage dropped partly because of rising unemployment and partly because a decline in small employers' health plans.

The percentge of U.S. residents under age 65 with no workers in their families increased to 31% in 2010, from 21% in 2007.

The researchers also broke the results down by employer size:

  • 100 to 999 workers: Group health penetration fell 1.8 percentage points, to about 72%.
  • 1,000 or more workers: Group health penetration fell 1.7 percentage points, to about 85%.
  • 99 or fewer employers: Group health penetration dropped 5.7 percentage points, to about 45%.

At small firms, some of the enrollment drop was due to a decline in the percentage of workers offered coverage, and some was due to a decline in the percentage of workers who had access to coverage taking the coverage, the researchers say.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) is supposed to provide federal tax subsidies for individual health insurance purchasers with incomes under 400% of the federal poverty level but not for individuals with higher incomes.

The HSC researchers found that the percentage of high-income nonelderly U.S. residents with health coverage fell 4.2 percentage points between 2001 and 2010, to about 81%.

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