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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

cy and Management of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. When private employer-sponsored coverage declines, public health insurance and uncompensated care only fill part of the gap. We need expanded health insurance coverage to ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of health care.

Additional Findings from Health Insurance, Health, and Low-Wage Workers:

  • There is a widening gap in insurance coverage between low- and higher-wage workers: in 1996, 22 percent of low-wage workers were uninsured compared to 6 percent of higher-wage workers; by 2003 nearly a third of low-wage workers were uninsured with no change in the share of uninsured higher-wage workers.

  • The gap in insurance coverage mirrors a growing gap in access to health care between low- and higher-wage workers. In 2003, 81 percent of higher-wage workers had their blood pressure checked in the last year, up from 77 percent in 1996. In contrast, only 66 percent of lower-wage workers had had their blood pressure checked in the last year, down from 70 percent in 1996.

  • Similarly, in 1996, low-wage workers reporting a routine check-up was just 5 percentage points lower than similar reports by high-wage workers. By 2003, however, lower-wage workers lagged higher-wage workers in reports of routine check-ups by 15 percentage points.

While these studies underscore the crucial role of public programs in filling gaps in employer coverage, many workers are falling further behind in access to critical health care services, said Sara Collins, assistant vice president for the Future of Health Insurance at The Commonwealth Fund. This points to the need for universal health insurance to ensure that everyone has access to needed care.

Both studies concluded that the growing lack of employer provided health care is placing a larger burden on taxpayers, working families, especially lower-wage workers, and public health insurance
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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