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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 8:56am

Fewer Workers Have Employer Health Care

More working Georgians are going without health insurance from their employers—either turning it down or not having coverage offered. It's a nationwide trend, but a sharper decline here.

Nearly 70 percent of Georgians were covered under employer health plans in 1999 and 2000. But a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that by the end of 2009, that number had fallen-off by 10 percent.

And the drop is very pronounced with small business. Only 37 percent of Georgia companies with 50 or fewer employees now offer health insurance.

Bill Custer, a Georgia State University professor of health care insurance industry, says the state has higher numbers of un-insured because of its business-makeup.

“I don’t think Georgia is that much different from the rest of the nation in terms of the willingness to buy coverage or the willingness of small employers to offer it. But they just have more small employers. So we’re seeing a greater number of uninsured Georgians than in other states.”

Custer says many workers pass on taking insurance to save money on premiums.

“And as they withdraw from employer-based pools, the remaining individuals are higher risk and sicker, and so the average claim goes up, increasing premiums and driving more people out of the market.”

And Custer says this concerning Georgia and other states with pending lawsuits against the federal health care law,

“The bottom line is if this law were repealed, some other law that looks very similar would have to be enacted. The current economic conditions won’t allow our current system to be sustained.”

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