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Loss of Health Insurance Much Likelier for Adults This Recession

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- About 9.3 million American adults lost health insurance coverage due to higher unemployment rates in the 2007-2009 recession, nine times more than in the 2001 recession, according to a new study.

It also found that 4.2 million children under age 18 gained health insurance coverage during the recent recession, which indicates that government health insurance programs work as intended as part of the social safety net, said the researchers at Cornell, Indiana and Carnegie Mellon universities.

As more parents lose jobs and income, more children qualify for coverage through Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs, the researchers explained in a Cornell news release.

The study found that men were much more likely than women to lose insurance coverage due to the higher unemployment rate (7.1 million men vs. 2.2 million women), and the impact was greatest among men who were white, older and well educated.

Among men, a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate was associated with a 1.67 percent decrease in the likelihood of having insurance.

Even men who kept their jobs were less likely to have insurance, likely because employers dropped coverage, cut workers' hours until they no longer qualified for insurance or increased employee premium contributions to the point that workers couldn't afford coverage.

Among children under age 18, however, a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate was associated with a 1.37 percent increase in the likelihood of having insurance.

The study was published online by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more about health insurance.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, Dec. 8, 2011

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