Fewer Employers Offer Lower Income Parents Health Coverage

March 14, 2007

As President Bush, governors and members of Congress debate how much federal funding to devote to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a new analysis provides a clearer look at uninsured children in every state . The analysis, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that since 1997, employer offers of health insurance to parents with lower incomes have fallen three times as fast as offers to parents who earn more money.

The figures underscore that working parents who earn modest incomes are experiencing dramatic erosion in employee benefits. Nationally, fewer than half (47 percent) of parents in families earning less than $40,000 a year* are offered health insurance through their employer—a 9 percent drop since 1997. Meanwhile, offers of health insurance to parents in families earning $80,000* or more have held steady at about 78 percent.

"In reauthorizing SCHIP, Congress must provide the funds needed to maintain coverage for all currently enrolled kids and the millions more who are eligible, but remain unenrolled. We must ensure that children whose parents work hard, but cannot afford health insurance for their kids can get the health care they need to thrive," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "For the last decade, SCHIP has provided a much-needed safety net for our nation's kids, especially as there has been a decline in the number of children in low-income families covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. Parents realize that providing health insurance for their children is becoming more costly and those who earn modest wages are doubly squeezed. They are less likely to be offered insurance on the job, and less able to afford to purchase it on their own."

Many uninsured children would likely be eligible for free or low-cost insurance coverage through SCHIP, which Congress is set to reauthorize this year. Signed into law in 1997, SCHIP provides each state with federal funds to design a health insurance program for vulnerable children. The states each determine eligibility rules, benefit packages and payment levels.

Other information contained in the analysis includes:

Most uninsured children—including children in low-income homes—have parents who work. Across the nation, 75 percent of uninsured children live with someone who works full-time.
Nearly 9 million children in the United States are uninsured - that's an average of 11.5 percent, or about one in every eight kids.
States with the highest percentage of uninsured children include Texas (20.3 percent), Florida (16.9 percent), New Mexico (16.6 percent), Nevada (16.4 percent) and Montana (16.2 percent).
States with the lowest percentage of uninsured children are Vermont (5.6 percent), New Hampshire (6.0 percent), Michigan (6.1 percent), Hawaii (6.2 percent), Minnesota (6.5 percent) and Nebraska (6.5 percent).
For uninsured children in families that earn modest incomes, the situation is even more dire. The analysis shows nearly two out of three uninsured kids in the United States (64 percent) live with adults who earn modest incomes, calculated at roughly $40,000 or less for a family of four.
States with the highest percentage of uninsured children who are in families with modest incomes are: the District of Columbia (73.9 percent), Mississippi (73.7 percent), Kentucky (73.4 percent), Arizona (72.3 percent) and North Dakota (71.5 percent).
States with the lowest percentage of uninsured children who are in families with modest incomes are: Vermont (36.2 percent), New Hampshire (41.3 percent), Hawaii (42.5 percent), Wyoming (46.2 percent) and Massachusetts (48.0 percent).
Last fiscal year, more than 6 million children in the United States were enrolled in SCHIP.
"Because of SCHIP, millions of children can see doctors when they are sick and get the check-ups and prescription medicines they need. That's an important investment in our nation's future," said Lavizzo-Mourey. "Many parents who work but cannot afford health insurance, or are not offered coverage through their jobs, can make sure their children get the health care they need because of these programs. Healthy children are better prepared to learn in school and succeed in life."

Today's report was prepared by analysts at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), located at the University of Minnesota. The report analyzes data from the U.S. Census Bureau (1998-2006 Current Population Surveys), U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2002-2005) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey (1997 and 2005).

The report and other information on the uninsured are available at www.CoverTheUninsured.org.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* 200 percent of the federal poverty level is equal to approximately $40,000 for a family of four in 2005, the year with the most recent data. Return to news release copy
* 400 percent of the federal poverty level is equal to approximately $80,000 for a family of four in 2005, the year with the most recent data. Return to news release copy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Related Links
Media Briefing Webcast
News Release
Report
CoverTheUninsured.org

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Contacts for Journalists
Amy Martin
Office: (202) 745-5118

Patrick McCabe
Office: (202) 745-5100


#

tags