Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Uninsured Rate Increases as Employers Cut Costs: Government Coverage Rose Slightly in 2003

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Uninsured Rate Increases as Employers Cut Costs: Government Coverage Rose Slightly in 2003

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The number of people in the United States without health insurance rose to 45 million in 2003, U.S. Census Bureau data show.

The increase from 2002 to 2003 amounted to 1.4 million unin sured Americans, with the per centage of uninsured rising from 15.2% to 15.6% of the population, according to the bureau's report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.

The Census Bureau cited a decline in employer-based health insurance as an important reason for the rise in the uninsured population.

The number of people covered by employer-based plans fell from 175 million people (61.3%) in 2002 to 174 million (60.4%) in 2003. That change overshadowed a slight uptick in government-sponsored coverage.

"It's hard to say what caused the change in employment insurance coverage." Damel H. Weinberg, Ph.D., chief of housing and household economic statistics with the Census Bureau, said at a press briefing sponsored by the bureau.

"There's been a long time trend of firms offering less generous plans," he explained.

Still, being employed does seem to improve one's chances of getting coverage. Among people 18-64 years of age in 2003, 82.5% of those with full-time jobs had health insurance, compared with 76.2% of part-time workers and 74% of nonworkers.

Even so, the uninsured rate for those working full time increased from nearly 16.8% in 2002 to 17.5% in 2003.

The decline in employer-based coverage was partially offset by a rise in the number of people covered by government-sponsored insurance, from 73.6 million (25.7%) in 2002 to 76.8 million (26.6%) in 2003.

Medicare coverage increased by 0.2%, while Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage increased by 0.7% over this time period.

The proportion of children without health insurance coverage did not change, remaining at 11%, or about 8 million children. …

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