EBRI Finds Drop in Health Care Coverage during Recession

April 29, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New data shows that 2009 marked both the sharpest one-year decline in employment-based health coverage for working age Americans, and also the first time in recent history that less than 60% of individuals under age 65 had health benefits through a job.

The nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found that the percentage of workers who received employment-based health benefits through their jobs decreased from 53.2% in 2008 to 52% in 2009. The data also shows that during the recession the percentage of workers with coverage as a dependent fell from 17% in 2008 to 16.3% in 2009, according to a news release.  

The study found the decline in coverage corresponded with the rising unemployment rate during the recession, from an average of 5.8% in 2008 to a high of 10.1% during 2009.  

Other factors cited in the EBRI report: Fewer employers offered coverage, which means that fewer workers have access to coverage, and workers’ wages are not keeping pace with health care premiums, meaning fewer workers with access to coverage are likely to enroll in health plans. Structural changes in the work force, such as the movement of workers away from manufacturing jobs and from full-time and full-year work, also contributed to the decline.  

The full report appears in the April 2011 EBRI Issue Brief, “The Impact of the 2007−2009 Recession on Workers’ Health Coverage,” online at http://www.ebri.org.