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Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

By July 25, 2019Commentary

There are several sources of information regarding private health insurance provided by employers.  The Kaiser Family Foundation annual report is one, but the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality routinely puts out a Statistical Brief based on responses to its regular Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and it is always worth checking multiple sources.  The most recent brief on this topic was just released, covering trends from 2008 to 2018.   (AHRQ Brief)   The headline news would be that there really has been remarkable stability in this health insurance segment for the last few years.  From 2017 to 2018, in all size employers, there was basically no change in the percentage of workers, 48%, covered by an insurance plan offered by the employer.  99% of people working at companies with over 100 employees had health insurance offered at the company and overall 85% of employees do, with only small employers of less than 50 people having  a low rate, at about 47% of workers.  That offer rate at small companies has declined from 62% in 2008, probably due to the effect of the federal reform law.  In those companies offering health insurance, 78% of workers are eligible for the coverage.  The most common reason for not being eligible is working part-time.  Eligibility rates have increased recently, probably reflecting less use of part-time employees.  The take-up rate, or percent of people eligible for a plan and enrolling under it, declined slightly from 73.5% in 2017 to 72.4% in 2018.  This may reflect an increase in the number of people who have a spouse with coverage elsewhere and the effects of the expansion of Medicaid, which is less expensive for low-income workers.  Health insurance premiums rose about 5% between 2017 and 2018, but the worker contribution to that premium was flat for single and single plus one coverage, while increasing for family coverage.  Deductible levels were basically flat, the first time this happened in the overall study period of 2008 to 2018, but in that period the percentage of employees with a deductible in their plan rose from 71% to 87%.  The report indicates that the group health insurance market is still a major source of coverage for Americans and that it appears stable.

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