EBRI Finds Economy-Health Coverage Link

June 22, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Findings from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) show that the likelihood a worker will or will not have employment-based health benefits depends strongly on the strength of the economy and the unemployment rate.

For example, EBRI said, from December 2007 – August 2009, the percentage of workers with coverage in their own name fell from 60.4% to 55.9%. After August 2009, there appeared to be what might be the beginning of a recovery in the percentage of workers with employment-based coverage. By December 2009, 56.6% of workers had employment-based coverage.   

Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program and author of the report in the June 2011 EBRI Notes, said that cost was also a factor as to why many uninsured workers did not have health benefits from either employment-based coverage or coverage they could purchase directly from an insurer. Seventy to ninety percent of uninsured workers typically cite cost as the main factor for not enrolling in health coverage when it is available.   

Currently, less than 10% of uninsured workers report that they do not have coverage because they are ineligible for the plan as a result of not working enough hours, have not worked long enough to qualify, or declined coverage due to thinking they did not need it.  

Employment-based benefits are the most common form of health insurance for non-poor and non-elderly Americans. In 2009, 59% of non-elderly individuals were covered by an employment-based health plan, with 68.2% of workers covered, 34.6% of non-working adults covered, and 55.8% of children covered.  

The June 2011 EBRI Notes can be found at http://www.ebri.org.