Employer-sponsored health plans are covering fewer California residents and government programs, such as Medicaid, are covering more.[@@]

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research have published figures supporting that conclusion in a report based on data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey.

The survey includes responses from 42,000 California household.

About 54% of California residents ages 0 to 64 had employer-based coverage throughout 2003, down from 56% in 2001, researchers write.

The percentage of children covered all year by employer-sponsored plans fell to 52%, from 56%, while the percentage covered all year by government programs for low-income and moderate-income children increased to 29%, from 24%.

The researchers also found increases in the percentage of children and working-age adults covered by “other” types of plans, such as private individual health insurance policies.

Although California employers continue to offer health coverage to the majority of workers, “we see more and more middle- and low-income workers priced out of job-based health coverage each year because they can’t afford their share of the cost,” says Dr. Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, Woodland Hills, Calif., which financed the UCLA report.

Although California residents earning at least 3 times the federal poverty level, or about $45,000 per year for a family of 3, were more likely to have and keep employer-sponsored health coverage, 5.4% were uninsured at least part of the year, and fewer than 78% had employer-sponsored coverage year-round, down from 79% in 2001.