‘Employment Status of Workers Ages 55 or Older, 1987-2008’ and ‘Tracking Health Insurance Coverage by Month: Trends in Employment-Based Coverage Among Workers, and Access to Coverage Among Uninsured Workers’

March 2010, Vol. 31, No. 3
Paperback, 16 pp.
PDF, 1,384 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2010

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Executive Summary

Employment Status of Workers Ages 55 or Older, 1987-2008


OLDER WORKERS STAYING IN THE WORK FORCE LONGER: A growing percentage of older Americans are in the labor force: The percentage of those ages 55 or older in the labor force increased from 29.4 percent in 1993 to 39.4 percent in 2008. For those ages 65–69, the percentage increased from 18.4 percent in 1985 to 30.7 percent in 2006. These trends mark a significant change in behavior for individuals in these age groups, and are likely driven by their need to obtain affordable employment-based health insurance and to accumulate retirement savings.


MORE PART-TIME WORK: While older workers working full time, full year increased steadily from 1993–2007, that trend ended with the recession year of 2008. While members of the older population were more likely to work in 2008, they were less likely to be working full time, full year in 2008 after consistent increases through 2007.


 


Tracking Health Insurance Coverage by Month: Trends in Employment-Based Coverage Among Workers, and Access to Coverage Among Uninsured Workers


HEALTH COVERAGE ON A MONTHLY BASIS: This analysis examines employment-based health benefit coverage rates on a monthly basis from December 1995 to March 2009, to allow for more accurate identification of changes in trends, and to more clearly show the effects of recessions and unemployment on changes in coverage.


RECESSION PERIODS: Between December 2007–May 2008, the percentage of workers with coverage in their own name fell from 60.4 percent to 56.8 percent. The recession officially started in December 2007. The period between May 2008–March 2009 shows a continuing decline in the percentage of workers with employment-based coverage in their own name, falling to 55.7 percent by March 2009. Unlike the December 2007–December 2009 period, which saw a drop in employment-based coverage, the recession of 2001 produced very little change in coverage.


ECONOMY AND OTHER FACTORS AFFECT HEALTH COVERAGE: The likelihood of a worker being uninsured is tied to the strength of the economy and the unemployment rate, but uninsured workers reported multiple reasons for not having coverage. Most workers reported that they did not have coverage because of cost, and those doing so ranged from 70 percent to 90 percent over the December 1995–March 2009 period. The percentage of uninsured workers reporting that they were not offered employment-based health benefits was roughly 40 percent through 2003, and has been falling since then, reaching 24 percent in early 2009.