How Changing Financial Barriers to Health Insurance Affects Coverage and Worker Morale
During 2000 and 2001, Catholic Health East established the Affordable Access Initiative to increase the participation of its low-income employees in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.
Project staff completed an economic analysis and interviewed affiliated institutions to learn about "best practices" used to facilitate increased employee enrollment.
Catholic Health East is a multi-institutional health system located in 11 eastern states.
Key findings from the Affordable Access study are as follows:
- Price is the single greatest barrier to enrolling low-income workers in employer-sponsored health insurance.
- Price, however, is not the only influence on health insurance participation rates; other factors, such as the availability of substitute forms of care (e.g., the emergency room), also affect demand.
- Employer price subsidies must be large, relative to the price of health insurance, for low- and moderate-income workers to purchase coverage.
- Catholic Health East would have to pay slightly more than $1 million to increase insurance enrollment rates for its low-income workers to the level of those earning more that $20,000 (where a 75.7% enrollment rate has been achieved).
- Communication and outreach are important to the goal of increasing employee enrollment in health insurance programs.