Number of Employers Offering Health Insurance Rises

November 29, 2001 ( - Prior to the 2001 economic slowdown, the number of employers offering health insurance grew, pushing the numbers of the uninsured down to 15.9%, from 16.2%, research by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows.

Of the 163.4 million Americans under the age of 65, 67% were covered by an employer-sponsored health plan last year, up from 66.6% the previous year, according to a report in the November issue of EBRI Notes.

The study also shows that between 1998 and 2000, the proportion of firms, with 100 or fewer workers, offering health benefits increased from 54% to 67%, with much of the increase occurring among the smallest firms. The number leveled off in 2001.

According to EBRI, the percentage of non-elderly Americans with employment-based health benefits varies among regions and states, ranging from a high of 73.1% in the East North Central region to a low of 59.7% in the West South Central region.

States with the lowest proportion of uninsured individuals in 2000 included:

· Rhode Island with 7.3%
· New Hampshire, 7.9%,
· Wisconsin, 8.2%, and
· Pennsylvania with 8.5%

Those with the highest proportion of uninsured include

· New Mexico, at 26.8%
· Texas, 23.7%,
· Oklahoma, 22.6%, and
· Louisiana with 21.7%