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$45 billion a year is spent by public on health costs for full-time workers and families
Date:5/1/2008

>Workers without coverage from their employers are disproportionately concentrated in smaller firms. Nonetheless, significant increases in uninsured or publicly insured workers in firms with 100 or more employees occurred over the five-year period from 1999 to 2004. For example, 1.6 million people working for employers with more than 100 employees were uninsured in 2004, compared with 1.2 million in 1999, a 33 percent increase. Including family members, nearly 5 million household members in working families associated with large firms were uninsured in 2004, compared with nearly 4 million in 1999.

A related study by Glied and Mahato, also released today, found that in 2003 one-third of full-time workers earning less than the 20th percentile of wages$9.80 or less per hour in 2003were uninsured for the full year, an increase of 9 percentage points since 1996. That study, The Widening Health Care Gap Between High- and Low-Wage Workers, found that in addition to being less likely to have health insurance through their jobs than higher-wage workers, low-wage workers were less likely to have a regular doctor, to go to the doctor when they are sick, or to get preventive care like blood pressure checks.

The study reveals a growing divide in the health system between low-wage and higher-wage earners between 1996-2003. While higher-wage workers made substantial gains in their use of preventive care services over the period of the study, lower-wage workers made only modest gains or suffered declines in preventive care. They were also less likely to be using the latest generation of prescription drugs. Consequently, the health care spending gap between high- and low-wage workers has widened considerably.

Without insurance coverage, people dont get the care they need when they are sick, and the preventive care they need to keep them from getting sick in the first place, said lead author Sherry Glied, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Poli
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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