MORE MIDDLE-INCOME TEXANS GO WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE

March 17, 2010

A growing number of middle-income Texans between 2000 and 2008 moved into the ranks of the uninsured, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released today. 

  • During that period, uninsured middle-income Texans -- families earning between $48,000 and $85,000 -- grew 40 percent, from 1.22 million to 1.71 million.
  • Nationwide, the total number of uninsured middle-income people increased more than 2 million since 2000, to 12.9 million in 2008.  

The report is based on the work of researchers at the University of Minnesota who examined U.S. Census Bureau data for calendar years 1999-2000 and 2007-2008.  About 78,000 households were surveyed in each of those years: 

  • In Texas, 10.8 million people receive health insurance through their employers.
  • Half of those people earn more than $88,000, 400 percent over the federal poverty level for a family of four, according to U.S. census data; but that group has seen a 5.5 percent drop in employer-sponsored insurance.
  • In Texas, 15 percent of private-sector employees worked in businesses that did not offer health insurance in 2008.
  • About 23 percent of employees in Texas whose companies offered insurance were ineligible to participate because of criteria established by the employer (length of time with the company, number of hours worked, employment status, etc.).
  • And 21 percent of employees across the state who had an offer of insurance did not accept it -- up 4 percentage points since 2000. 

But one local economic analyst says there's a reason for those figures.  The majority of middle-income families who don't have health insurance rejected an opportunity to buy it, says Devon Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis: 

  • Nearly 40 percent of the nation's 46 million uninsured live in households earning more than $50,000 annually.
  • Half of these have household incomes greater than $75,000.  

"They just don't see a good value in it," he says. 

During the past 10 years, says Herrick, the number of people with health insurance increased by 24 million nationwide, while the number without insurance increased by 3.8 million. 

"Both increases are largely due to population growth," says Herrick.  "Typically, those who lack insurance are uninsured for only a short period of time -- more than half will have coverage within a year." 

Source: Jason Roberson, "More middle-income Texans go without health insurance," Dallas Morning News, March 17, 2010. 

 

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