Health Insurance Coverage Continues to Decline

October 11, 2007 ( - The latest EBRI (Employee Benefit Research Institute) Issue Brief reports the percentage of the nonelderly population (under age 65) with health insurance coverage continued to decline, reaching to a post-1994 low of 82.1% in 2006.

Declines in health insurance coverage have been recorded in all but four years since 1994, when 36.5 million nonelderly individuals were uninsured. In 2006, the uninsured population was 46.5 million, according to the report.

EBRI said employment-based coverage has declined but remains a dominant source of health coverage, consistently covering 60% – 70% of nonelderly individuals. In 2006, 62.2% of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits, compared to 64.4% in 1994. Between 1994 and 2000, the percentage of the nonelderly population with employment-based coverage expanded, but has declined since 2000, the report said.

Starting in 2005, however, it appeared the decline in employment-based coverage was not being offset by expansions in public programs. EBRI speculates this may be due to the fact that, while unemployment is relatively low, the cost of providing health benefits continues to increase faster than inflation.

Public-sector health coverage was slightly lower as a percentage of the population in 2006, accounting for 17.5% of the nonelderly population. The decline was due to a drop in the percentage of the population covered by the Tricare/CHAMPVA program, EBRI notes.

Individually purchased health coverage was unchanged in 2006 and has basically hovered in the high 6% and low 7% range since 1994.

Based on EBRI estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS), the research reflected 2006 data.

The Issue Brief is here .