Nearly 29 percent of residents of L.A. County younger than 65 didn't have health insurance at some point last year, according to a new UCLA study. That's a staggering 2.7 million people and was significantly higher than the statewide average of 24.3 percent.
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Researchers blame the recession, though our absurd health care delivery system is also to blame.
Because we have employer-based coverage, any spike in unemployment leads to an accompanying rise in people without insurance. Also, if you work for a struggling small business or in general have a lower skill job, you're probably going to be uninsured. Sure enough, just 43 percent of Los Angeles had employer-based coverage last year. In Orange County, with its lower unemployment, 55 percent were covered through work, and far fewer uninsured.
The data doesn't include Californians older than 65 because they're on Medicare, the dread federal "socialized medicine" that Tea Partiers love so much they wanted to make sure the rest of us didn't get it during last year's epic, and epically stupid, health care debate.
That health care legislation behemoth, which really kicks in in 2014, makes halting attempts to get people off the employer-based system and will expand Medicaid (Medi-Cal here), while giving subsidies to small businesses and individuals to buy on the individual market. But the system as is remains to a large degree intact, because Sen. Ben Nelson is a Democrat from the state of Mutual of Omaha.