Employment-Based Coverage Fell Sharply During Great Recession: Analysis

By Jerry Geisel

Dec. 16, 2011

The percentage and number of U.S. residents younger than 65 who are covered by employer-sponsored health care plans fell sharply during the Great Recession and since then, according to a new analysis.

In 2010, 58.8 percent of individuals younger than 65, or 156.4 million people, had employer-based coverage. That is a significant decline compared with 2007, when 63.5 percent of the nonelderly population, or 166.1 million people, had health coverage through their employer, according to an Urban Institute analysis conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Employer-sponsored coverage fell sharply for adults and children, according to the analysis released Dec. 15. For example, 65.2 percent of adults age 19 through 64 had coverage in 2007 vs. 60.4 percent in 2010. In numbers, 119.1 million adults were covered in 2007 vs. 112.7 million last year.

For children through age 18, the percentage of those covered fell from 59.8 percent in 2007 to 55 percent in 2010, with the corresponding numbers falling from 47 million in 2007 to 43.6 million in 2010.

The drop in employment-based coverage is directly linked to the slump in the economy, according to the analysis, which is based on U.S. Census Bureau data. The loss of coverage during economic downturns is linked to declines in employer-sponsored coverage.

When people lose jobs, they frequently lose their employer-sponsored coverage. In the Great Recession, the decline in employer-sponsored coverage was particularly acute,” according to the analysis.

Jerry Geisel writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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