Reliance on public health insurance programs grows in California

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Californians turn to public health insurance programs to find the coverage they need

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has released a new analysis concerning health insurance coverage in California. The analysis shows that the number of people receiving coverage through public programs, such as Medicaid, grew in the years leading up to the Affordable Care Act. Many businesses throughout the state that had been offering health insurance benefits to employees did not choose to cut benefits, but economic pressures did cause them to shed workers. Increasing unemployment rates caused many people to seek coverage through public programs, which ultimately helped narrow the coverage gap between insured and the uninsured.

20% of state residents rely on public programs

According to the analysis, the percentage of state residents that received health insurance coverage through public programs reached 20% in 2012, a 3% increase over what had been recorded in 2009. During this period, employer-sponsored health insurance coverage dropped from 52.1% to 49.5%, largely due to the mass job loss associated with the so called Great Recession. In the wake of the economic crisis, people throughout the state began finding new jobs, many of which did not offer affordable coverage to employees due to increases in premiums over the past few years.

health insurance coverageEmployer-sponsored coverage is becoming too expensive

A steady decline in employer-sponsored health insurance may be one of the signs that the Affordable Care Act may be necessary, according to The California Endowment, a private health foundation that issues grants to community-based health care organizations in the state. The California Wellness Foundation suggests that Californian consumers are still struggling from the financial impact of the Great Recession, making access to low-cost or no-cost health insurance coverage quite valuable to people throughout the state.

Coverage through state exchange proves to be a popular option

The state’s health insurance exchange has been relatively well received by consumers despite initial technical difficulties that emerged at its launch. Through the exchange, called Covered California, people can find policies that are designed to be less expensive than those sold in the private market. These policies do not sacrifice coverage benefits, however, as all policies are required to meet a minimum level of coverage as defined by the federal government.

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