Workplace health insurance down

insurance coverage at work down arrowThe number of people with employer-sponsored insurance has “eroded substantially” since the beginning of the century, health analysts say.

The percentage of people with employer insurance fell more than 10 percent over the period from roughly 1999 to 2011, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported.

Meanwhile, the number of people with government-sponsored coverage increased about 3 percent, according to the report, “State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance.”

News of the downturn comes in a key period for the Affordable Care Act reforms, whose projections depend on continued employer-sponsored coverage for the vast majority of Americans. Most of the uninsured people who would sign up for health care insurance via Affordable Care Act exchanges (marketplaces) are not eligible for work-related coverage.

Nationally, the percentage of firms offering employee health coverage fell from about 59 percent to 52 percent in the study period, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said. Small businesses accounted for most of the loss, falling from almost 68 percent offering coverage to about 56 percent.

The so-called take-up rate — those accepting employer offers of health insurance — also fell — from almost 82 to 76 percent.

In California, a key state in adoption of the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of people up to age 64 with employer-sponsored health insurance fell from 62 percent (in 1999-2000) to 53 percent (2010-2011).

Many of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations do not apply to self-insured plans, “so there is some concern that employers will increasingly shift toward self-insurance as ACA implementation moves forward.” That concern is focused on the small-group market.

The cost of premiums for single coverage doubled over the period, researchers said, with the largest hike in California, where the average annual premium increased 123 percent.

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