UCLA report finds economic downturn and job loss pared health coverage for middle class Californians
Critics of employer-based health insurance (and single payer advocates) will likely point to this recent article by the California HealthCare Foundation’s California Healthline reporting on a recent UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report finding 670,000 Californians lost employer provided health insurance in 2008 and 2009. The article quotes Shana Lavarreda, lead author of the report, describing the numbers as an indication that medical coverage among middle class Californians was significantly undermined by the economic downturn and resulting job losses. “The uninsured here is less and less an undocumented [worker] problem, and now it’s more of a Main Street problem,” Lavarreda told California Healthline.
The report has implications for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is predicated on all Americans being in a public or private managed care or health insurance plan by 2014 — with the bulk of private coverage employment-based. The experience of California (and certainly other states) in the two years leading up to the enactment of the Act in 2010 shows that employer-based coverage — which had been eroding even prior to the recession with fewer small employers providing coverage — remains quite vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy that disrupt employment.