Report: Millions in CA will remain uninsured, despite health care law

Report: Millions in CA will remain uninsured, despite health care law capture, Dec. 23, 2013A new report from the California Healthcare Foundation offers several sobering statistics about the uninsured population in California, just as some of those who have signed up for health coverage through Covered California will see their coverage begin Jan. 1.

“California’s Uninsured: By the Numbers” contains several data points that cast doubt on the Golden State’s image as a progressive utopia.

According to the report, California’s working population is less insured than its overall population. While around 20 percent of the state’s residents are uninsured, about one in four of those that work don’t have health insurance.

This may be a result of declining employer coverage. In 2012, some 54 percent of California residents got coverage through their employer (the most common way to get health coverage in the United States). But that number is smaller than it was in 1988, when 63 percent of California’s got health insurance from their employer.

“Employees in businesses of all sizes are more likely to be uninsured in California than in the United States,” the report stated. “In businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 40 [percent] of workers are likely to have no insurance.”

And 62 percent of the children without health insurance had a parent in their household who worked full time. Almost a third of the uninsured population had a household family income of $50,000 or more.

Latino uninsured

Almost 60 percent of California’s uninsured population is Latino. Covered California has been struggling to get Latinos to trust and use the system, as has previously reported.

But perhaps the most startling statistic deals with how many people will remain uninsured.  Although the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is often described as a “universal health care law,” that isn’t quite right.

In 2015, approximately 5.6 million Californians still won’t have health insurance. But among those 5.6 million, the report estimated that 2.6 million will eventually take up coverage.

However, more than 3 million Californians will remain uninsured in 2015. Of course, those are simply estimates: it is entirely possible that more than 3 million will choose not to pursue health care.

The report starkly acknowledges that “with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), the numbers of uninsured residents in California will be reduced, although a significant number will be left behind.”

The report was released ahead of the first deadline for health care signups on Dec. 23. Covered California — which has performed better than the federal exchange but continues to fall behind its own self-imposed goals — is clamoring in the final days of the year.

Tens of thousands of applicants signed up for health insurance each day last week. However, the enrollment pool is composed of a disproportionate number of older Americans, which could prove problematic as they generally require more care than younger people. And the state continues to struggle with signing up older Americans.

Problems persist, but the law isn’t going away anytime soon. Nor are millions of uninsured, who will stay that way despite the legislation’s enactment.

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