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Job-Based Health Insurance Declines Dramatically In California

Aired 10/30/12 on KPBS News.

A new report shows jobs with health benefits are shrinking in California.

— A new study finds less than half of Californians under the age of 65 had job-based health insurance last year. That represents a major decline from before the recession.

The report, from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, shows 55.6 percent of non-elderly Californians had job-based coverage in 2007. That percentage fell dramatically between 2007 and 2009, when the recession hit.

That was to be expected. But Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of the Center's Health Insurance Study Program, said between 2009 and 2011, California's unemployment rate went down.

"And we still saw a decline in job-based coverage that was just as big as the two years prior," Alex Lavarreda pointed out. "So, what we think this is due to, is the jobs that are coming back, are now being offered without health insurance."

The Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs have picked up the slack. They now insure one in five non-elderly Californians.

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