A recent study of women and children leaving welfare rolls reveals that obtaining a job can mean losing health insurance. According to the study, about one-third of women formerly on welfare who are now employed have no insurance coverage. The study, to be published Monday in Health Affairs, is sponsored by the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family, among others.
A 1999 study by Families USA “estimated that 675,000 people lost Medicaid coverage and had no other health insurance in 1997 due to strict new welfare rules.” Additional research demonstrates that former welfare recipients obtain low-wage jobs that do not offer insurance, or offer insurance, but do not provide sufficient wages for them to afford the premium.
The Health Care Financing Adminstration, which runs Medicaid, has reported alarming abuses in the system in recent years. Auditors claimed that poor families leaving welfare were misinformed about their eligibility, automatically deleted from computerized Medicaid files upon leaving welfare, or even harassed by caseworkers when applying for coverage.