Majority of US Workers Insured in 2000

March 18, 2003 ( - More than 71 million working Americans under 65 had health insurance they got through their primary workplace in the first half of 2000.

Even though 61.4% of workers were covered with insurance obtained through their current main job, there was a wide variation in the rate of worker coverage depending on the job’s characteristics. Workers making $9.50 or less and those working fewer than 35 hours per week in their current main job were much less likely to have employment-related coverage than other workers (See  Low-Wage Workers Less Likely To Have Health Insurance ), according to data from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Workers with higher hourly earnings were more likely to have health insurance coverage through their primary job. Only a third of workers earning less than minimum wage ($5.15 an hour) had insurance coverage from their primary employer, compared to 83.2% of workers making more than $21 an hour.

As withearnings, the number of hours worked had a direct correlation with the percentage of insured workers. Those working 35 or more hours per week were almost seven times as likely to have insurance through their current main job as those working 20 hours or less were, 70.4% versus 10.3%.

Job Setting

People employed with federal, state and local governments had a higher rate of coverage than workers in private industry. Over three-quarters (76.4%) of federal government employees and a very similar number of state and local government workers (75.4%) were covered through their current main job.   Comparatively, only slightly more than half (58.7%) of private industry workers enjoyed a level of coverage.

There was a wide range in the percentage of workers with health insurance coverage through their current main job when they were classified by occupational group.Managers and administrators were most likely to be insured (73.3%), while farm laborers were least likely to have health insurance (28.4%).   Employees who belonged to a labor union were much more likely to be covered by health insurance through their current main job than nonunion workers. While 88% of union workers had such coverage, only 57.6% of nonunion workers did. Union workers make up about 13% of all workers (See  Union Membership Strikes Seven-Year Low ).

Combining private and public employment with occupational groups reveals the health insurance coverage rate for most industry groups was significantly different than the overall average of 61.4%. Public administration (81.2%) and manufacturing (77.0%) were among the industries with the highest coverage rates relative to the average. In contrast, workers with current main jobs in personal services (30.7%) and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (26.2%) were less likely, again relative to the average, to have health insurance.

Generally, the larger the size of an establishment, the greater the percentage of its workers who had health insurance through their current main job.   Establishments with 500 or more employees had the largest portion of workers with coverage (79.3%) of all size classes. In contrast, the comparable percent for the smallest size class, establishments with less than 10 workers, was 36.2% (See Small Business Values Healthcare Despite Rising Costs ).