Since 2002 the percentage of workers with health care coverage has been declining, mostly because fewer workers have access to coverage, says a new issue brief by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Both the offer rate (the percentage of workers offered health benefits) and the coverage rate for employment-based health benefits declined between 1997 and 2010. Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers offered health benefits from their employers decreased from 70.1% to 67.5%, and the percentage of workers covered by those plans decreased from 60.3% to 56.5%.
In addition, the percentage of workers taking coverage when offered by their employers (take-up rate) declined from 86% in 1997 to 83.6% in 2010. Among the reasons given by respondents who chose not to participate in their employer’s health plan, 67.9% stated that they were covered by other health insurance in 2010, 29.1% reported that their employer’s plan was too costly, and another 2.2% reported either that they did not need insurance or that they did not want insurance.
According to the brief, offer rates increase with firm size. In 2010, 39.4% of workers in firms with fewer than 25 employees were offered health benefits, compared with 76.5% in firms with 100 or more employees. Take-up rates, while they vary with firm size, do so much less than offer rates. In 2010, 77.8% of workers in firms with fewer than 25 employees took coverage when it was offered, compared with 84.9% of workers in firms with 100 or more employees. Both offer and take-up rates are higher for full-time employees.
As for demographics, men, non-Hispanic workers, and workers with college degrees are more likely to be offered health care benefits.