For workers in fair or poor health, owning individual health insurance seems to offer more security than relying on employer-sponsored small-group health coverage does.
Mark Pauly and Robert Lieberthal, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, come to that conclusion in a paper published in the Web version of Health Affairs, a health finance academic journal.
The work was funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Pauly and Lieberthal used data from the federal Survey of Income and Program Participation. The researchers looked at workers with at least 1 year of continuous health coverage during the period that extended from 2000 to 2004.
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Workers rated their own health as being excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.
The typical worker included in the data was in very good health.
For workers in very good health, “the coverage-loss rates for group coverage were consistently lower than those for individual coverage,” the researchers write in the paper. “However, the most striking finding is that this order is reversed for group workers with ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ health status.”
Sicker workers who began with small-group coverage were much more likely than workers with individual coverage to lose all coverage, the researchers write.