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NIOSH Study Shows Increase in Health Insurance Coverage

Industries with highest percentage of uninsured workers includes construction and farming.

The estimated number of workers between 18 and 64 years old with health insurance increased by approximately 3.3 percentage points (or 21%) from 2013 to 2014, according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers.

Workers who had no health insurance varied depending on their occupation.

“Identifying factors affecting differences in coverage by occupation might help to address health disparities among occupational groups,” said Winifred L. Boal, MPH, research epidemiologist and lead author of the study.

According to NIOSH, the lack of health insurance has been associated with poorer health status and with difficulties accessing preventive health services and obtaining medical care, especially for chronic diseases.

In January 2014, during the study period, the federal requirement to obtain qualifying health insurance began. In order to observe differences in health insurance coverage by occupation, researchers grouped workers into 22 broad occupational categories and looked at survey responses from 17 states. 

The study delineates lowest and highest percentages of being uninsured in 2014 by workers’ occupations:

  • On the low end, 2.7% of workers in community and social services occupations and education, training and library occupations were uninsured in 2014.
  • On the high end, 37.0% of workers in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations were uninsured in 2014.
  • More than 25% of workers in four occupational groups were uninsured in 2014: construction and extraction; farming, fishing, and forestry; food preparation and serving related; and the highest, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.

Americans employed in the farming, fishing, and forestry and construction and extraction industries, which are among the most hazardous, ranked some of the highest as uninsured.

There can be several reasons why workers in specific occupations remain uninsured, including not being able to qualify for Medicaid and/or living in a state that did not expand Medicaid eligibility, not being able to afford coverage, and not having employers who provide health insurance, according to NIOSH.

To access the study Health Insurance Coverage by Occupation Among Adults Aged 18–64 Years — 17 States, 2013–2014, click here.

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