Kids at Risk

Declining Employer-Based Health Coverage in California and the United States: A Crisis for Working Families

This study analyzes children’s health insurance trends in the United States and California from 2000 to 2004, examines the impact of premium price increases on health insurance coverage, and predicts coverage rates over the next five years.

The data on health insurance coverage in this brief comes from the March Supplement to the Current Population Survey for 2000 to 2004. This was augmented with premium price information from the Employer Health Benefit Surveys (2000 to 2004) conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. Children are defined as individuals who are 18 years of age or under.

The report finds that employer-based health coverage has eroded significantly over the past five years and that without immediate action this trend is likely to continue well into the future. If premiums continue to rise at current rates, 55% of the nation’s children and fewer than half of California’s children will be insured through a parent’s employer by 2010. Adjusting for population growth, 1.7 million more U.S. children will be uninsured (280,000 more in California) and 2.7 million more children will be enrolled in a public program (470,000 more in California), than in 2004. The predicted drop in employer-based health insurance and the corresponding rise in public programs and uninsurance among children reflect a significant shift of health care costs from employers to working families and the public sector.