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Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Census data shows that while the overall share of Washingtonians who lacked health insurance went down between 2000-01 and 2007-08, employer-provided coverage weakened significantly over that time. Public coverage, that is Medicaid, increased during that time, offsetting the decreases in employer-based insurance.

National data shows that in 2000-01, 13.1 percent of Washingtonians lacked health insurance. This number dropped to 11.8 percent by 2007-08. Over that time, the table below shows that employer-sponsored health insurance fell from 67 percent of the population in 2000-01 to 64.6 percent in 2007-08. At the same time, the share of the population covered by Medicaid jumped from 12.1 percent to 13.6 percent.

Before the Census data was released, the Budget & Policy Center, Washington Kids Count, and others expected there would be a decrease in the share of Washingtonians with health insurance between 2000-01 and 2007-08. The news that the share of the population with health insurance actually went up, highlights the importance of publicly provided health care coverage.

During the last legislative session in Washington, lawmakers decided to cut funding for the state’s Basic Health Plan. This will result in a loss of coverage for Washingtonians who do not receive insurance through their employer. At the same time, the unemployment rate in the state has been rising, which means many people who did have employer-sponsored insurance will no longer have coverage. Because of these trends, we anticipate that a drop in the share of Washingtonians with health insurance will become evident in the near future.

Editor’s note: On September 22, 2009 the Census Bureau will release state-by-state estimates of poverty, median income, and health insurance coverage for 2008 from the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS has a very large sample size, allowing for single-year estimates at the state and county levels. On the 22nd, the Budget & Policy Center and Washington Kids Count will jointly release an analysis of poverty, median income, and health coverage in Washington using the latest ACS data.

The Children's Alliance along with Washington Kids Count posted an analysis of the latest census data looking specifically health coverage among children in Washington. Consistent with the general population, they find that Washington's S-CHIP program (Apple Health for Kids) has kept number of children without health insurance from climbing in 2007-08.

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