The number of Americans without health care coverage is rising. This isnt surprising, given the seemingly endless rounds of layoffs: fewer employees means fewer people covered under employer-sponsored plans. The 2010 Census revealed that the number of U.S. residents covered by their employers fell 0.9 percent from 2009 to 2010, to approximately 169 million.
This number has been dropping steadily for some time now. In 1987, the first year The Census Bureau began recording health insurance enrollee numbers, 62.1 percent of the population was enrolled in a public employer-sponsored plan. In 2010, after that 0.9 percent decline, just 55.3 percent of the population was enrolled in a public plan through their jobs.
In response, the percentage of citizens with privately purchased health insurance (individual coverage, family coverage, or coverage bought through an association) is growing, though not enough to account for the employer-sponsored decline. In 2010, the number increased by about 3.6 percent, to 30 million enrollees. The number of members in military or civilian government plans increased 1.9 percent, to 95 million.
Additional bright spots in the Census findings included a lower number of uninsured young adults (among people aged 1824, the number dropped from 29.3 percent to 27.2 percent) and uninsured residents with household incomes greater than $75,000 per year (declining from 8.3 percent to 8 percent).
How will these numbers continue to change as the impact of health care reform grows? Some feel that the greater regulation and rising cost of health care mean that people will be priced out of the private health insurance market. Certainly, more employers are raising premiums or turning to other cost-sharing methods that make it difficult for employees to participate at the same level they have in the past. Will the exchanges of 2014 make care more accessible? Will the individual mandate stay in place, and force a resolution of the issue? Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.