Recession Boosts Govt. Healthcare Recipients

September 23, 2010

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Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Financial Services | Government & Politics | Pharma & Healthcare

More than one-quarter of US adults reported having government health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veterans’ benefits) in August 2010, up 13% from January 2008, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Employer-Insured Percentage Goes Down
As of August 2010, 25.4% of US adults were insured through a government program such as Medicare, Medicaid or military/veterans’ benefits. This figure is about 13% higher than the 22.5% of US adults receiving government health insurance in January 2008, one month after what is generally considered to be the December 2007 starting point of the current recession.

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During the same time period, the percentage of US adults insured through a private program partially or fully provided by their employer dropped 9%, from 50% to 45.5%.

August Results Reflect Long-term Trends
The percentage of American adults who have government health insurance rose above the 23% range for the first time in August 2008 (24%), crept above 25% in May 2009, and then stayed mostly in the high 24% range. However, the figure has been higher than 25% for the past five consecutive months.

In addition, the 45.5% of Americans with employer-based coverage ties June 2010 for the lowest on record and is lower than 47.9% in August 2009, 48.4% in August 2008, and 50% in January 2008.

Uninsured Levels Rise Dramatically
Meanwhile, an average of 16.3% of Americans are uninsured so far in 2010, about the same as last year, but about 10% more than 14.8% in 2008. The percentage of those receiving some other form of health insurance has remained fairly consistent at about 11% since January 2008.

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No Single Cause to Blame
One specific program is not driving the increase in the government’s healthcare rolls. Additional Gallup data show that the percentages of Americans with Medicare, Medicaid, and military/veterans’ coverage are each up so far in 2010 compared with past years, though the percentage with Medicare has risen slightly more than the other two programs.

Government Programs Set to Have Impact
Gallup analysis indicates the new healthcare law passed in March 2010 has yet to significantly affect these programs, but numerous provisions are getting underway, with others set to start this month and more over the next several years. Increased access to Medicaid, banning discrimination against Americans with preexisting conditions, and the creation of health insurance exchanges, all of which are set to take effect in 2014, will have a further impact on the state of healthcare coverage in the country.

Worker Share of Health Insurance Grows 14%
While the average US health care family premium grew an average of 3% in 2010, the average share paid by workers rose 14%, according to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. Total premiums for employer-sponsored family coverage, including what employers themselves contribute, rose 3% to $13,770 on average in 2010. Single coverage averaged $5,049, a 5% year-over-year increase.

Meanwhile, workers on average are paying nearly $4,000 this year toward the cost of family health coverage, an increase of 14%, or $482, above what they paid last year. For single coverage, workers are paying an average of $899 this year, up 15% from $779 last year. Employer contributions did not rise during the last year.

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