The rate at which employees are offered healthcare benefits—and the rate at which they enroll—are both in decline, according to a report released in July by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Although fewer workers are offered and enrolled in employer-sponsored health benefits, EBRI noted that the link between health coverage and employment is still strong. Over 58% of people under age 65 are covered by a health plan through their job. That included 68% of workers and 35% of nonworkers.
“Because of the linkage between employment and access to health coverage, the likelihood of a worker being uninsured is tied to the strength of the economy and the unemployment rate,” Paul Fronstin, author of the report, wrote.
The percentage of people covered by health plans through their employer stayed relatively steady between 1996 and 2007, bouncing between just under 60% and to almost 62% in that time period. After the recession began, coverage fell from 60% to 57% in May 2008. Employment-based coverage continued to decline even after the recession technically ended and recovery began. By October 2011, 55% of workers were enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans.
The percentage of workers covered as dependents also fell, EBRI found. After increasing in the late ’90s, then fell steadily from 18% in 2000 to between 16% and 17% by the end of 2007. It remained relatively stable between 2007 and July 2009, wavering between 16.6% and 17.9%.