Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey

September 2011
EBRI Issue Brief #362
Paperback, 36 pp.
PDF, 1,672 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011

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Executive Summary

LATEST CENSUS DATA: This Issue Brief provides historical data through 2010 on the number and percentage of nonelderly individuals with and without health insurance. Based on EBRI estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2011 Current Population Survey (CPS), it reflects 2010 data. It also discusses trends in coverage for the 1994–2010 period and highlights characteristics that typically indicate whether an individual is insured.

HEALTH COVERAGE RATE CONTINUES TO DECREASE, UNINSURED INCREASE: The percentage of the nonelderly population (under age 65) with health insurance coverage decreased to 81.5 percent in 2010. Increases in health insurance coverage have been recorded in only three years since 1994, when 36.5 million nonelderly individuals were uninsured. The percentage of nonelderly individuals without health insurance coverage was 18.5 percent in 2010, up from 18.3 percent in 2009, and its highest level during the 1994–2010 period.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED COVERAGE REMAINS DOMINANT SOURCE OF HEALTH COVERAGE, BUT CONTINUES TO ERODE: Employment-based health benefits remain the most common form of health coverage in the United States. In 2010, 58.7 percent of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits, down from 69.3 percent in 2000.

SHIFTING COMPOSITION OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED COVERAGE: Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of individuals under age 65 with employment-based coverage in their own name has dropped. In 2007, 54.2 percent had coverage in their own name. By 2010, it was down to 51.5 percent. Dependent coverage during this time period fell slightly from 17.5 percent to 17.1 percent, and increased slightly from 16.8 per-cent to 17.1 percent between 2009 and 2010.

PUBLIC PROGRAM COVERAGE IS GROWING: Public program health coverage expanded as a percentage of the population in 2010, accounting for 21.6 percent of the nonelderly population. Enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program increased, reaching a combined 45 million in 2010, and covering 16.9 percent of the nonelderly population, significantly above the 10.2 percent level of 1999.

INDIVIDUAL COVERAGE STABLE: Individually purchased health coverage was unchanged in 2010 and has basically hovered in the 6–7 percent range since 1994.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011: 2010 is the most recent year for data on sources of health coverage. Unemployment in 2011 has been about 9 percent since the beginning of the year. While down from the 2010 average of 9.6 percent, it remains high and there is a continued threat of a double-dip recession increasing it even further. As a result, the nation is likely to see continued erosion of employment-based health benefits when the data for 2011 are released in 2012. Fewer working individuals translates into fewer individuals with access to health benefits in the work place, especially after COBRA subsidies have been exhausted.