Switching of employer health plans is declining

The number of non-elderly Americans who switched employer-sponsored health insurance plans dipped by nearly five percentage points between 2003 and 2010, a new survey shows.

The National Institute for Health Care Reform, Washington, D.C., discloses this finding in a January 2013 Research Brief. The report recaps findings from a national study by the Center for Studying Health System on employer-provided health plans.

The report indicates that about one in eight (12.8 percent) nonelderly Americans with employer coverage switched health plans in 2010. This is down from one in six (17.2 percent) in 2003.

When asked why they switched from one employer-sponsored health insurance plan to another during the previous 12 months, 5.1 percent of the respondents in both 2010 and 2003 pointed to a change in jobs. Health plan changes attributed to “other reasons” were cited by 7.5 percent of respondents in 2010, down from 12 percent in 2003.

Among the other reasons cited, respondents said their employer changed health insurance plan offerings (62.7 percent in 2010 versus 65.5 percent in 2003); changed the plan to reduce costs (23 percent in 2010 vs. 20.3 percent in 2003), and changed the plan for better quality (10.9 percent in 2010 versus 11.7 percent in 2003).

Among survey respondents from 2010 who changed health insurance plans for reasons other than a change in jobs, 9 percent had no adult family member with a chronic condition. This compares with 7.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, of respondents who (a) had at least one adult family member with one chronic condition; or (b) had at least one adult family member with two or more chronic conditions.

Additionally, 8.4 percent of the 2010 respondents who switched health insurance plans for reasons other a job change indicated that all adults in their family had excellent or good health. This compares with just 5 percent of respondents who noted that at least one adult family member had fair or poor health.

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