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Washington Watch - November 18, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Geography Impacts Likelihood Of Being Insured

According to recently released Census data, state laws, population makeup and jobs can mean that Americans in some geographic areas are many times more likely to be uninsured than others. Americans in large areas of the Southwest are much more likely to lack health insurance than those in areas of the Northeast and upper Midwest.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) notes that the portion of uninsured residents in the nation’s 435 congressional districts ranges from a high of 40.1 percent in Representative Gene Green’s district in Houston, Texas, to a low of 3.4 percent in Representative Jim McGovern’s district near Worcester, Mass.

The reasons for these geographical disparities are manifold, including state regulations and the jobs available in and the demographic characteristics of certain areas.

Medicaid eligibility varies between states. States that are more generous in their eligibility requirements for Medicaid, the federal health program for lower-income families, have lower rates of uninsured residents than states with more stringent requirements.

Areas with more residents working in certain industries, more nonunion workers, greater numbers of lower wage earners, fewer government workers, and more residents between the ages of 20 and 24 or 60 and 64 are more likely to have a larger proportion of uninsured.

Residents working in farming, fishing, hunting, mining, construction, real estate, support positions such as secretary or janitor and hotel and food service workers are more likely to be without insurance coverage. While construction workers in heavily unionized areas of the United States, such as the Northeast, Chicago and California, are more likely to have health coverage than in right-to-work states in the South and Southwest, Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that 80 percent of union workers in private industry had health insurance benefits in 2006, while only 49 percent of nonunion workers did.

Wages and the availability of government jobs can also predict access to health insurance, as more than 90 percent of the nation’s highest wage earners had access to health insurance, while little more than 25 percent of the nation’s lowest wage earners did, and just under 75 percent of the nation’s workers had access to health insurance, but the access rate rose to 88 percent for government workers.

People between the ages of 20 and 24 may be least likely to have health insurance out of all age groups because they don’t have jobs, have jobs that don’t include health insurance or have aged out of parents’ health insurance coverage. Another age group in which people are less likely to be insured is the 60 to 64 age group, likely because they are making too much money to qualify for public insurance but can’t afford private insurance, or are early retirees whose company didn’t provide health insurance in retirement, but are too young to qualify for Medicare.

Find more articles like this at the NASE's Health Resource Center.


NASE Asks Legislators To Remember Self-Employed In Health Reform

NASE President Robert Hughes recently reached out to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and urged them to push hard for provisions in the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) that would provide financial relief for the nation's self-employed and micro-businesses. His letter is excerpted below:

"We strongly support the individual and small employer tax credit, the national Exchange and the market reforms such as prohibiting insurance rating based on health status or pre-existing conditions that have been included in H.R. 3962. However, the NASE fears that new benefit requirements coupled with minimal cost relief provisions in the Affordable Health Care for America Act could leave micro-businesses and the self-employed paying more for health insurance after reform than they are currently.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the average premium that citizens would pay based on the three lowest-cost plans under the House bill would be $5,300 for an individual (single) policy and $15,000 for a family policy, which is greater than what a number of NASE members are currently paying for health coverage. While we feel it is important that self-employed business owners have access to meaningful health coverage, if Congress is going to mandate that all Americans purchase insurance, they must also ensure that coverage is affordable."

Read the rest of the letter, which includes specific provisions for which NASE President Robert Hughes asked.


 

Small Biz Health Care Roundup

Here's a sampling of this week's top health care reform articles. If you find an article or blog that you think should be considered, drop us a line at media@nase.org.

  • What Will The Goldman Sachs Plan Mean To You? (NY Times - You're The Boss Blog) - "Goldman Sachs and its largest shareholder, Warren Buffett, announced a $500 million plan on Tuesday to help small businesses — including $200 million to pay for small-business owners to get business and management education at local community colleges and other places."
  • Ask SCORE: How House Health Care Reform Bill Affects You (The Desert Sun) - "The exact impact on small businesses is yet to be determined, but if the House version is adopted by the Senate, here are some of the highlights."

 



Lawmakers and media outlets across the country rely on and regularly cite the NASE as a source of small and micro-business expertise. Help the NASE make sure the micro-business perspective is heard by taking this month’s poll.

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