Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2012 Current Population Survey

September 2012
EBRI Issue Brief #376
Paperback, 36 pp.
PDF, 1,457 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012

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Executive Summary

  • This Issue Brief provides historical data through 2011 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 2012 Current Population Survey (CPS), it reflects 2011 data, and also discusses trends in coverage for the 1994–2011 period as well as characteristics that typically indicate whether an individual is insured.
  • Health Coverage Rate Increased, Uninsured Down: The percentage of the nonelderly population (under age 65) with health insurance coverage increased to 82 percent in 2011, notable since increases in health insurance coverage have been recorded in only five years since 1994.
  • 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, though it represents a declining share. In 2011, 58.4 percent of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits, down from the peak of 69.3 percent in 2000, during the 1994–2011 period.
  • Public Program Coverage Is Expanding: Public program health coverage expanded as a percentage of the population in 2011, accounting for 22.5 percent of the nonelderly population. Enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) also increased to a combined 46.9 million in 2011, covering 17.6 percent of the nonelderly population, significantly above the 10.2 percent level of 1999.
  • Individual Coverage Stable: The percentage represented by individually purchased health coverage was unchanged in 2011 and has basically hovered in the 6–7 percent range since 1994.
  • What to Expect in 2012: The unemployment rate in 2012 has been about 8 percent since the beginning of the year, and remains high amidst a still-sluggish economy. As a result, the nation is likely to see a corresponding erosion of employment-based health benefits when the data for 2012 are released next year. Until the economy gains enough strength to have a substantial impact on the labor market, a rebound in employment-based coverage is unlikely.