Employer-sponsored health coverage levels off News added by Benefits Pro on October 29, 2013

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By Kathryn Mayer

Employer-sponsored health coverage has been on a downward spiral since 2000, falling every year since its peak of covering 69.3 percent of the U.S. population at the turn of the millennium.

But that slide finally halted last year, when employer-based coverage leveled off.

That’s the major takeaway from a compilation of 2012 health coverage data from the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

EBRI data reports that 58.5 percent of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits in 2012 — either directly through their employers, unions, or previous employers, or indirectly through a family member — essentially the same as 2011 (58.4 percent).

Furthermore, health coverage finally edged up between 2011 and 2012, bucking a downward trend that has occurred during most years since 1994.

The working-age population (those aged 18−64) with health insurance coverage increased to 82.3 percent in 2012, up from 82 percent in 2011 and 81.5 percent in 2010. The uninsured rate for that group was 17.7 percent last year, down from 18 percent in 2011, EBRI researchers found.

Researchers said the leveling off in the decline of employer-sponsored coverage and flat enrollment in public-program health coverage as the major reasons for these changes.

Despite the continual drop in employer-sponsored coverage, it’s still the dominant source of health coverage for Americans. Full-time, full-year workers; public-sector workers; workers employed in manufacturing; managerial and professional workers; and individuals living in high-income families are most likely to have employment-based health benefits.

Coverage in public programs, such as Medicaid and S-CHIP, accounted for 22.6 percent of the nonelderly population, mostly poor families.

The percentage with individually purchased health coverage was slightly higher in 2012 but has hovered around 7 percent since 1994.

EBRI’s report is based on the latest data from U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2013 Current Population Survey, reflecting 2012 results.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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