Employment-Based Health Benefits: Trends in Access and Coverage, 1997-2010

April 2012
EBRI Issue Brief #370
Paperback, 36 pp.
PDF, 1,071 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012

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Executive Summary

  • Since 2002 the percentage of workers with health coverage has been declining, mostly because fewer workers have access to coverage.
  • Both the offer rate (the percentage of workers offered a health benefit) 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 percent to 67.5 percent, and the percentage of workers covered by those plans decreased from 60.3 percent to 56.5 percent.
  • The take-up rate (the percentage of workers taking coverage when offered by their employers) declined from 86 percent in 1997 to 83.6 percent in 2010.
  • Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers offered health benefits from their employers decreased from 70.1 percent to 67.5 percent, and the percentage of workers covered by those plans decreased from 60.3 percent to 56.5 percent.
  • Two-thirds of workers not eligible for their employers’ health plans reported that they worked part time in 2010, up from one-half in 1997.
  • In 2010, 46.7 percent of wage and salary workers ages 18–64 reported that they worked for employers that did not offer health benefits. Another 14.7 percent worked for employers that provided health benefits but were not eligible for those benefits. One-quarter of workers reported that they were offered health benefits but they chose not to participate.
  • Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers who declined coverage because of cost increased from 23.2 percent to 29.1 percent. In 2010, two-thirds reported that they declined coverage because they had other coverage, down from 78.9 percent in 1997.
  • In 2010, one-half of workers whose employers did not offer health benefits were uninsured, up from 44.1 percent in 1997. In contrast, 29.7 percent of those workers had employment-based health benefits as dependents, 8.1 percent purchased health insurance directly from insurers, and 11.7 percent were covered by public programs.
  • Among workers who were not eligible for their employers’ health plans, 38.7 percent were uninsured in 2010, and 41.1 percent had employment-based health benefits as dependents.
  • Eligible workers with access to health benefits through their own jobs were less likely to be uninsured and more likely to be covered by employment-based health benefits as dependents. Specifically, 24.8 percent were uninsured in 2010, whereas 62.8 percent had employment-based health benefits as dependents.