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Gallup Sees Drop in Group Health Enrollment

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U.S. residents ages 65 and older were about the only U.S. adults more likely to have employer-based health coverage in 2011 than in 2010.

The percentage of older adults with group coverage increased slightly, to 11.9%, from 11.8%, as the total percentage of U.S. adults ages 18 and older with group coverage fell to 44.6%, from 45.8%, according to Elizabeth Mendes, an analyst at Gallup Inc., Princeton, N.J.

The percentage with no insurance increased to 17.1%, from 14.8%.

Mendes has reported those figures in a summary of results from a Gallup survey that reaches 1,000 U.S. adults every day.

Gallup found drops in the group health coverage penetration rate in almost every demographic group studied.

The percentage with group health coverage held steady at 49.2% for white people but fell 0.7 percentage points for black people, to 38.1%, and fell 5.9 percentage points for Asian people, to 50.8%.

Penetration decreased 1 percentage point for people making less than $36,000 per year, to 23.7%; 2.4 percentage points for people making $36,000 to $89,999 per year; and 0.8 percentage points for people making $90,000 or more per year.

A high unemployment was not the only culprit: Even among workers with full-time jobs, the percentage with group coverage fell to 70.9%, from 73.4%.

The drop in full-time workers’ group plan enrollment rate “could be for one of two reasons, and is likely a combination of both,” Mendes says. “Either some workers can no longer afford the rising cost of the health insurance the employer offers, or the employer is simply not offering health insurance any longer.”