Fewer Americans Have Access to Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

health insurance coverageEmployer-sponsored health insurance is becoming less accessible each year, according to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute. Released on Wednesday, the study found that the number of Americans getting health insurance coverage through their workplace has dropped for the 11th year in a row, showing a trend that has been in place long before the Great Recession.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Drops

The Economic Policy Institute conducted a study to examine the number of workers who acquire health insurance from their employers. The institute’s research found that 58.3 percent of the nation’s workers under 65 had job-based health insurance.

This number marked a 0.3 percent drop from the previous year and followed a trend of major declines seen starting in 2008 when companies first began laying off their workers, shuttering plans and going out of business as a result of the financial crisis.

The trend didn’t just start in 2008, according to the report, however. The percentage of workers going without employer-sponsored health insurance has dropped 10 percent in the past decade.

Health Insurance Coverage No Longer a Bargaining Tool

One important finding in the Economic Policy Institute study was that many employers don’t feel the need to offer health insurance coverage to workers as a bargaining tool as in the past, largely because there are so many quality workers available to be hired.

Elise Gould, author of the study and director of health policy research at the Washington-based think tank, told the Minnesota’s StarTribune, “There are so many workers for every job out there, and workers don’t have any way to get higher wages or better benefits.”

Some workers have been able to benefit from early provisions of the Affordable Care Act, Gould told the StarTribune. Since insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and young adults are able to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26, the number of uninsured workers is a bit higher than expected.

But despite the changes in health care reform, workers ages 19 to 65 were 30 percent more likely to be uninsured in 2011 than in 2000. Gould expects this downward trend to continue in the near future.