News & Events

Nearly One in Five U.S. Workers Is Uninsured, Compared With One in Seven During Mid-1990s, Study Finds (MC)

One in five U.S. workers is uninsured, a statistically significant increase from fewer than one in seven during the mid-1990s, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study released on Tuesday, the AP/Detroit News reports. The study was led by Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, which conducted the research. According to researchers, during the mid-2000s, 26.9 million U.S. workers were uninsured, about six million more than the 20.7 million uninsured workers in the mid-1990s. Blewett said, "The thing I think is interesting is how many workers are newly uninsured," adding, "In the last couple of years we’ve seen a deterioration of private health insurance."

In addition, researchers found that in 14 states, 20% or more of the working-age population is uninsured compared with eight states in the 1990s. The study attributed the increase to costs, noting that total premiums for employer-sponsored plans have increased six to eight times faster than wages, depending on whether a worker is enrolled in individual or family coverage. The study also found that nearly all U.S. retirees and nearly 90% of children have health coverage.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of the RWJF, said, "I don’t think we can delay action [on health care reform] beyond this year," adding, "It’s clear that we are at the brink" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Detroit News, 3/24).

The report is available online.