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One in Five Californians Were Uninsured in 2005 Despite Modest Gains in Coverage

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Despite marginal improvements in job-based health insurance for adults and public program enrollment for children, one in five (6.5 million) Californians remain uninsured. Using data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) -- as well as data from CHIS 2003 and CHIS 2001 -- researchers were able to identify how changes in employment-based coverage and public programs effected un-insurance rates for California's adult and child populations.

The study shows that the percentage of adults who received health insurance through their employers increased to 56.2 percent in 2005, up from 55.1 percent in 2003. The authors credit the state's current tight labor market for this increase, but note that this figure is still behind the 2001 level of 57 percent. Moreover, they note that this improvement is unlikely to continue given the instability of employment-based insurance in the face of dramatically rising costs. The percentage of children without insurance for all or part of the year was statistically unchanged from 11.3 percent in 2003 to 10.7 percent in 2005, although the percentage was significantly lower than the rate in 2001 (14.8 percent). Researchers attribute this decline in the uninsured rate to recent expansions of children's enrollment and retention in public insurance programs, which is more than compensating for a decline since 2001 in the percentage of children being insured through their parents' employer.