Employer-sponsored health insurance hits new low

By | February 22, 2013 • Benefitspro

The number of Americans getting employer-sponsored health insurance
is at the lowest point since President Obama took office, a new Gallup
poll released Friday reveals.

At 44.5 percent, the percentage of people getting health care through
an employer is just slightly lower than in 2011, but 5 percentage
points lower than in 2008. The latest figures come despite the fact that
the economy added roughly 1.8 million jobs last year.

Opponents of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act have argued dropping health coverage is an unintended consequence
of the law that will negatively affect employees who want to stick with
the coverage they know and like.

Estimates have widely varied on just what reform will do to employer-based health coverage. A Deloitte report last summer estimated that one in 10 employers will drop coverage for their employees, while consulting firm McKinsey & Co. drew fire
when they stated 30 percent of respondents will “definitely” or
“probably” stop offering employer-sponsored health insurance after 2014.

At the same time, Gallup finds more Americans continue to report
having a government-based health plan—Medicare, Medicaid, or military or
veterans’ benefits—with the 25.6 percent who did so in 2012 up from
23.4 percent in 2008.

Gallup predicts that number will also continue to increase, as reform
expands the Medicaid program in 2014 to cover more people, which will
likely affect the total percentage of all adults who get their coverage
through a government plan.

“Fewer Americans continue to have employer-based insurance than did
so in 2008. This appears to be due to two factors: higher unemployment
and fewer workers getting insurance through an employer, either because
that employer no longer offers it or because the cost is prohibitive for
the employee,” Gallup researchers note. “Americans are now more likely
to be uninsured or to get their coverage through a government-based

Though the decline in employer-based coverage is apparent for those
workers employed full time for an employer or for themselves, the
percentage of part-time workers who have employer-based insurance rose
in 2012. Gallup notes this group of workers skews young, and young
adults—many of whom are either likely still in college and thus can only
work part time or are just entering the workforce and struggling to
find a job—have become more likely to be insured since PPACA provision
allowing those up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans went into

Employer-based health insurance coverage rates have dropped among all
major subgroups since 2008, declining the most for middle-income
Americans and the least for seniors. Rates have been steadily trending
down every year since 2008, Gallup says.