Although the uninsured rate remained at roughly 17% of adult Americans between 1999 and 2002, 2 million more were uninsured in 2002, according to new study released today by the Urban Institute, based in Washington, D.C.
Low-income adults saw the biggest drop in coverage, says the study, which is based on information from 40,000-households in the National Survey of America's Families.
Employer coverage for the low-income group fell from 41.6% to 37.0%, and much of that decline was offset by a rise for that group in public coverage, mainly Medicaid, from 14.5% to 17.6%, Urban Institute researcher Stephen Zuckerman writes in a "snapshot" report.
The three-year time period "saw a deterioration in employer health insurance coverage for every group of adults examined in this snapshot, except blacks," Zuckerman writes, adding that blacks are still more likely to be uninsured than whites.
Altogether, 29 million American adults were uninsured in 2002, he reports.
The Urban Institute research gives these suggestions for why employer-sponsored insurance declined:
- As employment fell, the rate of employer-sponsored coverage declined.
- Employment declined in large establishments, which are more likely to provide coverage, while employment rose in small establishments, which are less likely to provide insurance.
- More employers asked employees to share the cost of health insurance premiums, which may have led to fewer employees taking up coverage.