According to Gallup, the number of employers who offer employer-based health coverage has been declining over the past few years, and it is continuing to decline. The reasons for this are many, and it doesn’t look like things will change for the better anytime soon.
Over the past few decades, most of the Americans who had health insurance were able to afford it because it was part of the benefits that came with their job. The employee, after meeting the eligibility requirements set up by the employer, signed up during the open enrollment period, and started having part of his pay reduced in order to pay for the health insurance. The employer connected with a private insurance company that would allow his company to add it’s employees to the group health insurance coverage.
In the past, if a company wanted to attract excellent, well educated, motivated employees, it would make sure it offered people a great health insurance program as part of the job benefits. In the past, people had more opportunity to shop around and find an employment situation that paid well, was interesting to them, and that would enable them to obtain health insurance coverage. However, since the recession, and the rise of the unemployment rate, things have changed.
Gallup has been tracking the healthcare coverage of American adults since January of 2008, with it’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. To obtain this data, they conducted a telephone survey, and asked a random sample of 27,213 adults from all across the United States questions about their health insurance.
According to Gallup the percentage of Americans who were getting health insurance from their employer has decreased over the past three years. In January of 2011, a total of 44.6% of Americans had employer sponsored health care. That’s less then half, and the number is dropping.
The number of Americans who are covered by a form of government healthcare has been increasing in the past three years. Slightly more than one in four Americans is currently using Medicare, Medicaid, or military or veterans’ benefits as their form of health insurance. Gallup reports that this uptick is occurring in all age groups, and is not primarily because of the baby boomers who are now old enough to enroll in Medicare.
One figure has remained the same since February of 2009: About one in six Americans has absolutely no health insurance. That comes to about 16.3%. Gallup notes that right now, healthcare legislation is still being changed, challenged, and determined. It notes that many states are having great financial difficulty related to the Medicaid programs. Cuts to those programs could be affecting the number of Americans who reported having no health insurance. Gallup will continue to monitor health care coverage, and report updates about it.
Image by Enrique Dans on Flickr