Over 20 Million Working Americans Lack Health-Insurance Coverage
Between 1979 and 2008, rates of coverage fell dramatically.
For Immediate Release:March 22, 2010
Contact: Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115
Washington, D.C.- Over 20 million US workers lack health insurance, concludes a report released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. According to the most recent data available, almost 17 percent of workers in 2008 had no health insurance of any form, up from only 7 percent without coverage in 1979.
The report reviews official government data on health-insurance coverage from 1979 through 2008 and focuses exclusively on workers.
"Over 20 million of the 46 million Americans without health insurance are working for a living," said John Schmitt, economist at the CEPR and a co-author of the report.
The biggest reason for the decline in coverage since 1979 has been a fall in employer-provided coverage, the report found.
"Coverage rates have fallen sharply over the last three decades," said Schmitt. "If we had maintained the same coverage rate we had in 1979, almost 13 million more workers would have coverage today."
Low-wage workers are the least likely to have health insurance. In 2008, 37 percent of low-wage workers (defined as the lowest-paid fifth of workers) had no health insurance, private or public. Even among workers in the middle, 12 percent lacked coverage.
Other findings from the report include: