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Even With Insurance, Unemployed Have Worse Health Outcomes
Date:1/24/2012

access to health care of employed and unemployed adults aged 18 to 64.

Highlights of the report include:

  • 48 percent of unemployed adults had health insurance, compared with 81 percent of employed adults.
  • More of the unemployed had public insurance than those employed.
  • The unemployed had worse physical and mental health than the employed, whether they had insurance or not.
  • The insured unemployed were less likely to get medical care because of cost than the insured employed.
  • The insured unemployed were less likely to get prescription drugs because of cost than the insured employed.
  • The uninsured were less likely to get medical care and prescription drugs because of cost than people with public or private insurance, regardless of whether they had jobs or not.
  • The unemployed were more likely to be black, have less than a high school education and have an income below the poverty level.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, doesn't hold out hope that health care reform will make things better for the unemployed.

"During the recession, the use of health care plummeted. We had a 19.5 percent drop in primary care in the United States," she said.

This study shows that even if people lost their jobs and held onto their insurance, they couldn't afford to use health care, Woolhandler said.

"That's a uniquely American issue because we have such high co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services that people can't afford to use care," she said.

Woolhandler noted that health care reform will help some people because the number of uninsured is expected to be cut by over half.

"While there will still be 23 million uninsured after health reform is fully implemented, it's a whole lot less than it would be otherwise," she said.

But, having health insurance will not m
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