Employment-based Health Coverage Still Dominates, But Slow Decline Continues

Coverage is at the lowest level in the 15-year period between 1994 and 2009.

The ranks of Americans with employment-based health insurance declined by more than 2 percentage points last year, according to a new analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Overall, the percentage of individuals under age 65 with employment-based coverage declined from 61.1% in 2008 to 59% in 2009 -- its lowest level in the 15-year period between 1994 and 2009.

Conversely, those in this group who did not have health insurance increased to 18.9% in 2009, up from 17.4% in 2008.

"These trends are due to job losses resulting from the recent recession and the slow economic recovery, fewer workers being eligible for health insurance coverage, and more workers with coverage choosing to drop it," said Paul Fronstin, author of the EBRI report. " With unemployment remaining high, these trends are almost certain to continue when the data are released for 2010."

Other key points of the EBRI report:

  • Public program health coverage expanded as a percentage of the population in 2009, accounting for 21.1% of the nonelderly. Enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program increased, reaching a combined 44.1 million in 2009, and covering 16.7% of the nonelderly population, significantly above the 10.5 percent level of 1999.
  • Individually purchased health coverage was unchanged in 2009 and has basically hovered in the 6%-7% range since 1994.
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