Study: Most Workers Have To Wait Longer For Health Insurance Than Congress

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Rep.-elect (and physician) Andy Harris (R-MD) stood up at an orientation of newly elected members, flabbergasted that he’d have to wait a month for his government-provided private health insurance to kick in.

“This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” he reportedly complained, outraged by the delay.

For a man of the people, that’s a pretty impressive résumé. Most workers in this country have to wait weeks between their first day on the job and the day their health insurance kicks in. Sometimes more.

According to the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation annual survey of employer-provided health benefits, most workers would be lucky to start a new job in Harris’ shoes.“Seventy-four percent of covered workers face a waiting period before coverage is available. Covered workers in the Northeast are less likely (64%) than workers in other regions to face a waiting period.” the report reads. “The average waiting period among covered workers who face a waiting period is 2.2 months…. Thirty-one percent of covered workers face a waiting period of 3 months or more.

That percentage is even higher in West’s old field — health care — where a full 86 percent of workers have to endure a waiting period that averages 1.9 months.

You can download the entire report here (PDF), though it’s fairly sizable. The relevant information can be found on pages 44 and 52 of the report.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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