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Premium Subsidies for Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage: An Emerging State and Local Strategy to Reach the Uninsured

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Publication Date: December 2001

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Leslie Jackson Conwell; Ashley C. Short

Series: Issue Brief No. 47

Topic: Health (Health care financing)

Type: Brief


With nearly 75 percent of the uninsured living in households with at least one full-time worker, there has been renewed policy interest in strategies to expand coverage by subsidizing employer-sponsored insurance. Six of the 12 nationally representative communities that the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) tracks have premium assistance, or subsidy, programs planned or underway. Policy makers are enthusiastic about the potential to expand coverage through these programs, but enrollment has been modest to date. This Issue Brief examines operational challenges facing subsidy programs, such as how to structure a benefits package within budgetary and regulatory constraints and how to attract employers and employees without displacing existing private contributions to premiums. It also discusses the trade-offs policy makers may face to resolve these challenges in the context of rising premiums and a slowing economy.