Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fewer Pennsylvanians Have Employer Provided Health Insurance

from our friends at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:

Employers provided health insurance to 876,000 fewer Pennsylvanians in 2008 and 2009 than at the start of the decade, according to a new report analyzing U.S. Census data.

Only Michigan saw a larger decline in the number of people no longer insured by employer policies over the course of the decade, researchers with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) wrote in the report, which was jointly released with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network Tuesday.

“More and more Pennsylvanians are finding that a job doesn’t guarantee health benefits,” said Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

“There is hope on the horizon,” she added. “The Affordable Care Act will make quality health care more affordable and accessible to small businesses and working Pennsylvanians. But for now too many working families have to choose between paying a doctor’s bill and buying groceries.”

View a more detailed fact sheet on employer-sponsored health care in Pennsylvania.

While the recession-driven increase in unemployment contributed greatly to the growing number of people in the U.S. who lost employer-provided health care from 2008 to 2009, the erosion of employer-sponsored health care has been a decade-long trend, EPI found in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Erosion Accelerates in the Recession.

As many as 25 million more people under the age of 65 would have had employer-sponsored insurance in 2009 if the coverage rate had remained at the 2000 level, according to the EPI report. The national rate of employer coverage plunged nearly 10 percentage points over the course of the decade - from 68.3% in 2000 to 58.9% in 2009.

In Pennsylvania, the number of workers and their dependents with employment-based health coverage fell from 7,929,984 in 2000-01 to 7,053,500 in 2008-09 – a decline of 876,484. The rate of employer coverage in the commonwealth dropped from 75.9% in 2000-01 to 67.6% in 2007-08 – outstripping the national average decline during that period.

The report analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2009. State-level data are averaged over two years to reduce sampling error.

Citing the EPI report, members of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) urged Governor-elect Tom Corbett and the new Legislature to preserve one of the only affordable health care options available to uninsured working Pennsylvanians - adultBasic.

More than 43,000 Pennsylvanians could lose their adultBasic health coverage next year if an agreement expires with the state’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans, which provides much of the funding for adultBasic.

“The Blues have seen their surpluses grow two-and-a-half times faster than Pennsylvania wages since 2002,” said Antoinette Krauss, an organizer with PHAN. “They should be able to put some of that toward keeping thousands of Pennsylvanians from losing their health insurance.”

Overall, Pennsylvania has a higher rate of employment-based coverage than the national average, the EPI report found. Among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., the Commonwealth ranked 11th in employer coverage rates in 2008-09.

Still, working Pennsylvanians are less likely to be insured by their employer today than they were eight years ago. In 2000-01, 82.5% of working Pennsylvanians were insured by their own employer, while in 2008-09, the rate dropped to 76.2% – a decline of 6.3 percentage points.

You can read the full 23 page report here.

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