A Profile of Florida’s Low-Wage Uninsured Workers

The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) includes new large financial incentives for states to extend health insurance coverage to low-wage workers and other adults earning less than $17,775 a year.¹ These incentives apply to regular spending in a state’s Medicaid program and offer a five-percentage point across the board increase in the federal share for a 24-month period after the state extends coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that Florida’s budget would see a net gain of $1.8 billion over a two-year period if the state expanded Medicaid.² Approximately 789,800 uninsured nonelderly adults, or 33 percent of the state’s uninsured adult population, would gain health insurance.³

This fact sheet examines which workers and industries would benefit from expansion of Medicaid coverage.4 The top three industry sectors in Florida employing low-wage uninsured workers are hospitality, retail, and administrative/support/waste management services which together account for almost half of those working without insurance (see Table 1). The most common jobs for uninsured low-wage workers are cashiers, cooks, waiters and waitresses, retail salespersons, and construction workers (see Table 2). Restaurants and construction firms are the top two employers of these workers (26 percent).5


1 For more information on the provisions of the law, see E. Park and S. Corlette, “American Rescue Plan Act: Health Coverage Provisions Explained” (Washington DC: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and Center on Health Insurance Reform, March 2021), available at https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2021/03/11/american-rescue-plan-act-health-coverage-provisions-explained/.
2 R. Rudowitz, B. Corallo, and R. Garfield, “New Incentive for States to Adopt the ACA Medicaid Expansion: Implications for State Spending” (Washington DC: Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2021), available at https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/new-incentive-for-states-to-adopt-the-aca-medicaid-expansion-implications-for-state-spending/.
3 Kaiser Family Foundation, “Who Could Medicaid Reach with Expansion in Florida?” available at https://files.kff.org/attachment/factsheet-medicaid-expansion-FL.
4 All data are derived by the authors from the American Community Survey (2019) most from the Public Use Microdata Sample; county data calculated from American Community Survey five-year (2015-2019) prepared tables.
5 Ibid.