Affordable Health Insurance Backup Needed

The slow erosion of employer health care benefits means families and individuals need affordable backup plans, Michelle Singletary writes in her Washington Post-Bloomberg column.

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The number of health care plans offered by employers declines. (Thinkstock)

The slow erosion of employer health care benefits means families and individuals need viable backup plans, Michelle Singletary writes in her Washington Post-Bloomberg column.

We know most people get their health insurance coverage through their jobs or a family member’s employer.

But a report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute found the percentage of the population with employment-based health benefits has been declining, most recently because of the recession.

Paul Fronstin, author of the report and director of the institute’s Health Research and Education Program, said his research found fewer employers are offering health coverage, fewer workers are eligible for it and fewer employees are taking advantage of the benefit because it’s too costly.

“What we are seeing is this steady and slow erosion in employment-based coverage,” Fronstin said. “We’ve been seeing changes for the better part of a decade.”

Consider these findings:

• Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers offered health insurance by their employers decreased from 70.1 percent to 67.5 percent, and the percentage of workers covered by those plans decreased from 60.3 percent to 56.5 percent.

• Many people aren’t qualifying for health coverage because they work part time. Two-thirds of workers not eligible for their employers’ health plans reported that they worked part time in 2010, up from one-half of workers in 1997.

• Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of workers who declined coverage because they said it was too expensive increased from 23.2 percent to 29.1 percent. 

Read Michelle Singletary's entire column at Washington Post-Bloomberg.

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