Health insurance for low-wage workers

Almost 40 percent of low-wage workers (defined as those in the bottom fifth of the wage distribution) have no health insurance from any source. Only about 25 percent of low-wage workers have coverage through their employers.

Workers with no health insurance from any source, 1979-2010, by wage quintile

Source: Schmitt (2012).

Coverage rates have been on the decline for all workers over the last three decades, but the fall-off has been steepest for low-wage workers. Which makes low-wage workers the biggest potential beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to rough estimates in my most recent report (pdf) for CEPR (and released jointly with the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown), the ACA will likely cover more than half of low-wage workers currently without insurance.

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