EBRI Issue Brief

Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2008 Current Population Survey

Sep 9, 2008 36  pages


• This Issue Brief provides historic data through 2007 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 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS), it reflects 2007 data. It also discusses trends in coverage for the 1994–2007 period and highlights characteristics that typically indicate whether an individual is insured.

Health Coverage Increases: The percentage of the nonelderly population (under age 65) with health insurance coverage increased to 82.8 percent in 2007. Increases in health insurance coverage have been recorded in only four years since 1994, when 36.5 million nonelderly individuals were uninsured; in 2007, the uninsured population was 45 million.

Employment-Based Coverage Remains Dominant Source of Health Coverage: Employment-based health benefits remain by far the most common form of health coverage in the United States, consistently covering 60–70 percent of nonelderly individuals. In 2007, 62.2 percent of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits, unchanged from 2006. Between 1994 and 2000, the percentage of the nonelderly population with employment-based coverage expanded. Since 2000, the percentage has declined.

Public Program Coverage Is Stable: Public-sector health coverage expanded as a percentage of the population in 2007, accounting for 18.2 percent of the nonelderly population. Enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program increased, reaching at 36.3 million in 2007, and covering 13.9 percent of the nonelderly population, which is significantly above the 10.5 percent level of 1999.

Individual Coverage Stable: Individually purchased health coverage was unchanged in 2007 and has basically hovered in the high-6 and low-7 percent range since 1994.

What to Expect in 2008: 2007 is the most recent year for data on sources of health insurance coverage. While the percentage of the nonelderly population with employment-based health benefits was unchanged between 2006 and 2007, and the percentage with public coverage increased, resulting in a decrease in the uninsured, this should not be viewed as an indicator of things to come in 2008. As compared with 2007, unemployment was higher in 2008, meaning fewer individuals will have access to health insurance through a job, and gas and food prices were higher, meaning more individuals will have to choose between health insurance coverage and basic necessities.