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Census Bureau reports decline in employment-based health insurance

Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:50 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

The rate of employment-based health insurance coverage declined from 64.4 percent in 1997 to 56.5 percent in 2010, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, Employment-Based Health Insurance: 2010.

Among employed individuals, employment-based coverage declined from 76.0 percent in 1997 to 70.2 percent in 2010. During this time period, the employment-based coverage rate for those not in the labor force declined from 45.4 percent to 38.6 percent and for unemployed individuals declined from 33.5 percent to 30.8 percent. Individuals not in the labor force are people without jobs who are not currently looking for work, while unemployed individuals are people without jobs who are actively seeking employment.

During the same period, among employed individuals without coverage the rate increased from 14.7 percent to 18.0 percent, and the rate for those not in the labor force increased from 12.4 percent to 14.4 percent. A higher proportion of unemployed individuals were uninsured in 2010 (46.2 percent) than in 2005 (39.8 percent) and 2002 (43.1 percent).

“The report highlights the prevalence of employment-based health coverage among various socio-economic groups including coverage obtained outside the workplace,” said Hubert Janicki, an economist with the Census Bureau’s Health and Disability Statistics Branch. “Unemployed and individuals not in the labor force with employment-based coverage were generally covered by a previous employer’s plan or someone else’s, such as a spouse’s or a parent’s employer.”

The report uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine the characteristics of people with employer-provided health insurance coverage as well as the characteristics of employers that offer health insurance. The economic and demographic characteristics studied in this report include sex, race and ethnicity, age, family income and insurance status.

The report found the likelihood of working for an employer that offers any health insurance benefits increased with family income.

Individuals with family income less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level were the least likely to work for an employer that offered health insurance benefits. Among these low-income workers, 43.3 percent were employed in firms that offered health insurance benefits.

In comparison, workers with family income 401 percent and above of the federal poverty level were the most likely to work for an employer that offered health benefits (80.9 percent). For reference, 100 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four was $22,113 in 2010.

The report details reasons for non-participation in an employer’s health insurance plan. The report finds that the fraction of workers that reference “ineligibility” as the main reason for non-participation in an employer’s health insurance plan decreased from 37.1 percent in 1997 to 32.2 percent in 2010. Nonparticipating employees were not eligible to participate in the employer’s health insurance plan typically because they were temporary, worked part time or had not completed their probationary period.

Other highlights:

• In 2010, 71.1 percent of employed individuals age 15 and older worked for an employer that offered health insurance benefits to any of its employees.

• 42.9 percent of individuals who did not complete high school worked for an employer that offered health insurance to any of its employees, compared with 78.9 percent for individuals with a college degree.

• 75.7 percent of workers age 45 to 64 worked for an employer that offered health insurance benefits, compared with 60.0 percent for workers 19 to 25.

• Among married couples with only one member employed in a firm that offered health insurance benefits, 68.7 percent of married couples provided coverage for the spouse.

• While 37.6 percent of firms with 0 to 24 employees offered more than one health insurance plan, 65.6 percent of firms with 1,000 or more employees offered more than one plan.

• About 1.1 percent of nonparticipating workers whose employer offered health insurance benefits were not insured by their employer because they were denied coverage.

• Among nonparticipating workers whose employer offered health insurance benefits, approximately half (50.4 percent) declined coverage by choice.

• The two most common reasons among workers who chose not to obtain health insurance coverage through their employer were health insurance obtained through another source (66.4 percent) and cost (27.4 percent).

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