For Immediate Release: 01/18/2013
Contact: MaryAnne Lindeblad, Director, Health Care Authority, 360-725-1040; Nathan Johnson, Health Care Policy Division Director, HCA 360-725-0857; David Mancuso, PhD, Senior Research Supervisor, RDA, DSHS 360-902-7557
OLYMPIA – An annual report on the employment status of state medical assistance clients and their families shows that little has changed over the past five years – nearly one in 12 of those receiving state-sponsored medical coverage was employed for at least a portion of the year.
The Health Care Authority has posted the latest report on employment status of medical assistance clients on its website at www.hca.wa.gov/leg_reports.html
In the average quarter in 2011, the researchers found 92,461 employed persons with medical coverage from HCA, representing about 8 percent of all HCA clients.
Adding in non-Medicaid employed persons whose children were covered by Medicaid showed that there were 325,765 dependents of working parents with HCA coverage. This is about a quarter of the program’s total 1.2 million clients.
"This confirms that Apple Health for Kids is serving a vital role for children from low and middle-income families, an increasing number of which do not receive affordable coverage opportunities through employer-based insurance," said MaryAnne Lindeblad, Health Care Authority director. "With eligibility up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, equaling about $69,000 of annual income for a family of four, the program provides quality coverage with modest premiums that Washington families can afford."
Overall, the same trends were visible in 2006 when the Medicaid program first researched and reported on the issue at the direction of the Legislature. The annual reports were actually touched off earlier that year by criticism that some private employers were encouraging employees to sign themselves and their children up for Medicaid rather than trying to persuade them to buy into the employer’s health coverage.
"There was concern that people were gaming the system and unfairly using state coverage," said David Mancuso, Senior Research Supervisor of the Research and Data Analysis arm of the Department of Social and Health Services.
"I think the year-by-year results have relieved those concerns to an extent, although they continue to bear watching."
Lindeblad noted that the employment information from the Employment Security Department did not include specific information about how long people were employed during the year or specific pay scales.
"There also was a misconception that this was happening with a few retail operations"” she said. "In fact, the list of employers includes state government agencies, the University of Washington and Washington State, the Army, school districts, newspapers and the Boeing Co."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ranked No. 1 in both 2006 and 2011 among employers with workers on medical assistance, and the two top 10 employer lists were remarkably similar. McDonald’s and Safeway were ranked No. 2 and 3, and several fruit businesses from Eastern Washington appeared on both lists.
Mancuso noted that the employer list in 2011 showed an increased number of clients and parents holding employment but that was to be expected since total Medicaid enrollment jumped by about 200,000 during the recession that followed the earlier analyses.
"Overall, these are numbers you expect to see"” he said.
|Top 2011 employers (medical assistance clients)||Top 2006 employers (medical assistance clients)|
|1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (3,509)||1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (2,954)|
|2. McDonalds Corp. (2,753)||2. McDonald’s Corp. (1,918)|
|3. Safeway (1,877)||3. Safeway (1,228)|
|4. Kroger Co. (1,453)||4. Fred Meyer (789)|
|5. Yum! Brands Inc. (1,209)||5. Jack in the Box (735)|
|6. Jack in the Box (989)||6. Stemilt Growers Inc. (721)|
|7. Zirkle Fruit Co. (898)||7. Target Corp. (596)|
|8. Stemilt Growers Inc. (789)||8. Zirkle Fruit Co. (595)|
|9. Target Corp. (778)||9. Home Depot (541)|
|10. Sears Holdings Corp. (776)||10. IBP/Tyson (516)|
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HEALTH CARE REFORM OR BACKGROUND
The Medicaid Expansion 2014 website: www.hca.wa.gov/hcr/me
The Health Benefits Exchange website: www.hca.wa.gov/hcr/exchange
The Provider Rates Change website: www.hca.wa.gov/acarates
Employment status of medical assistance clients: www.hca.wa.gov/acarates
Jim Stevenson, Communications, HCA 360-725-1915 firstname.lastname@example.org
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