Uninsured Rose in 2003 as Number of Americans With Employment-Based Health Benefits Declined

October 2004, Vol. 25, No. 10
Paperback, 10 pp.
PDF, 723 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2004

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Executive Summary

• Among all Americans, 60.4 percent—or 174 million—were covered by employment-based health benefits during 2003, according to EBRI estimates from the March 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS) from the U.S. Census Bureau, the major source of health coverage rates in the United States. This is down from 2000, when 63.6 percent of the population was covered by employment-based health benefits. This continues a trend that started between 2000 and 2001, before which the percentage of Americans covered by employment-based health benefits had been increasing since 1994.

• The decline in employment-based health benefits can be attributed to a decline in the percentage of both workers and nonworkers with health insurance coverage. The decline in employment-based health benefits was coupled with an increase in the number and percentage of Americans without any health insurance coverage. These trends are the result of a weak labor market and rising health benefit costs.

• Children, working family-heads, other workers, and nonworkers were all more likely to have employment-based health coverage than any other type of coverage, either public or private. Those individuals whose family head did not work were more likely to be covered by public programs, or to be uninsured, than to have employment-based health insurance (20.5 percent).

• The percentage of nonelderly Americans with employment-based health benefits varies among regions and states, ranging from a high of 71.2 percent in New England to a low of 55.6 percent in the West South Central region. States with the lowest proportion of uninsured individuals include Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, while those with the highest proportion of uninsured include Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

• These trends should be expected to continue or accelerate as long as the labor market remains weak and the cost of providing health benefits continues to increase.