Employer-sponsored health insurance coverage continues to drop

The percent of Americans under 65 covered by employer-sponsored health insurance dropped for the 11th year in a row, according to a new report from The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank.

The report shows that, between 2010 and 2011, the percent of those covered went from 58.6 percent to 58.3 percent — not a big dip. However, looking at the big picture shows that the percent of those covered has been on the decline for more than a decade, and fell from 69.2 percent in 2000. That’s a drop of nearly 11 percentage points. Connecticut, meanwhile, has one of the highest rates of employer-sponsored coverage in the country, with 69.8 percent of residents covered this way.

The decline in employer-sponsored coverage has been accompanied by an overall decline in health insurance coverage. The number of uninsured non-elderly Americans was 47.9 million in 2011 — 11.7 million more than in 2000.

Here are some more highlights from the report:

Workers age 18 to 64 lost job-based coverage, with employer-sponsored coverage declining 3.4 percentage points from 2007 (the last business cycle peak) to 2011. Among strongly attached workers (those who worked at least 20 hours per week for at least half the year), service-sector workers had the lowest rates of coverage from their own job and experienced the largest declines from 2007 to 2011. Strongly attached workers in small firms are far less likely to have employer-sponsored coverage than those in large firms.
Children’s employer-sponsored insurance coverage (obtained through their parents) fell 12.0 percentage points from 2000 to 2011, and the gap in ESI access for children by income widened substantially over this period.
Workers age 18 to 64 were nearly 30 percent more likely to be uninsured in 2011 than in 2000. Uninsured workers are disproportionately young, Hispanic, less educated, and have lower incomes. The gap between coverage of full-time and part-time workers grew substantially from 2000 to 2011.
Public health insurance is responsible for keeping millions from becoming uninsured, as job-based coverage sharply declined from 2000 to 2011. Public insurance covered 25.0 million more people under age 65 in 2011 than in 2000.
Critical provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, informally known as health reform, have helped offset the declines in employer-sponsored coverage by insuring young adults through their parents’ health insurance policies.
Though health reform will substantially insure more Americans (especially as the 2014 insurance exchange provisions take effect), a weak labor market will likely lead to further employer-sponsored losses in the next couple of years.

Amanda Cuda