Characteristics of Low-Wage Workers and Their Labor Market Experiences: Evidence from the Mid- to Late 1990s. Availability of Health Insurance Coverage


  • Many of those in the low-wage population are covered by health insurance through their employers, although coverage rates are substantially lower than for higher-wage workers. For instance, 50 percent of all low-wage workers had employer-based health insurance coverage compared with 76 percent of all workers (Table III.7 and Figure III.10). The comparable figures were about 90 percent for medium-wage workers and 96 percent for high-wage workers (Table B.3). Interestingly, health insurance coverage rates for low-wage workers are higher for females than males (57 percent, compared to 41 percent), although there are no gender differences in the rates for medium- and high-wage workers.(23)
  • We also find large differences in employer-based health insurance coverage rates across the low-wage typology groups. In particular, among males, coverage rates are much higher for the young, single, educated group than for the minority, married, low-income, low-education group (46 percent, compared to 35 percent, Table B.4). Differences among females are more pronounced: the coverage rate for the married, white, educated workers is 67 percent, compared to only 31 percent for the single-parent, low-income workers. These major differences reflect differences in the quality of jobs held by workers across the groups.

Figure III.10.
Percentage Of Low-Wage And All Workers With Available
Health Insurance On The Job, By Gender
Figure III.10. Percentage Of Low-Wage And All Workers With Available Health Insurance On The Job, By Gender.
Source: SIPP 1996 March cross-sectional samples.
Note: All figures were calculated using the 1996 calendar year weight.

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