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November 03, 2007

California among worst in providing health insurance through jobs

The percentage of Californians who get health insurance through their jobs is among the lowest in the country, according to a study released Thursday.

Nationwide, about 63 percent of Americans have health policies offered by their employers. But in California, only 55.7 percent of workers were covered through their jobs last year, making it the state with the fifth-lowest level of employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

The number of employers offering health insurance has fallen nationally in recent years due to rising premiums and the diminishing bargaining power of the average worker. Companies have responded to the pressure by requiring employees to pick up a larger portion of the tab, through higher co-payments and monthly contributions, and reducing benefits and coverage for spouses and children.

In California, the problem is worse due to the sheer size of the population and the fact a large number of residents work in jobs that typically do not offer health insurance, such as agriculture, hospitality and the service industry.

According to the study, which uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the number of Californians covered by their jobs dropped to just under 18 million workers in 2005-2006 from 18.5 million in 2000-2001, or nearly half a million people.

While low-wage workers had the lowest level of coverage, middle-wage employees in California saw the steepest decline in those offered insurance during the past five years. And more than 600,000 fewer children in California were covered by their parents' insurance last year than in 2000.

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Posted by healthinsurance at November 3, 2007 07:52 PM