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Job-based health coverage slips

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Fewer Americans now get their health insurance on the job. According to new data from the U.S. Census. In the depth of the recession, Pennsylvanians lost jobs and health coverage too.

In 2009, about 67 percent of Pennsylvanians had coverage through an employer, that’s down from nearly 75 percent in 1999-2000.

Laval Miller-Wilson leads the Pennsylvania Health Law Project. His group is part of a coalition that lobbied for the federal health law enacted this year.

Miller-Wilson: If we need any more evidence about the imperative for health reform, this is it, because our reliance on an employer-based delivery system for health care means that Pennsylvania’s population – the United States population — is pretty susceptible.

Low-income people are most likely to be uninsured but of the newly uninsured across the country about half have incomes over $50,000 a year, according to analysts at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

During the health overhaul debate, 46 million was the much-repeated statistic on the total number of uninsured people in the U.S. But that number may have jumped to more than 50 million by 2009, according to the new data on poverty and insurance rates.

Sharon Ward leads the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

She says the number of Pennsylvanians signed up for public plans – such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program — increased but not enough to absorb the losses from job-based health coverage.

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