As Congress and the Trump Administration get ready to attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), a new national study finds that fewer employers are offering health insurance to their employees and fewer workers are choosing to sign up.
The percentage of employers offering health insurance fell to 45.7 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, from 47.5 percent in 2014. This was driven largely by more small employers deciding not to offer health-insurance benefits, according to new research from the University of Minnesota.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, researchers at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health say larger employers increased their offers of health insurance, but those gains were more than offset by small employers dropping insurance benefits. The researchers also found large differences in insurance offerings between states and among employers of different sizes.
Researchers say the findings may be partially explained by large employers adding health-insurance benefits to meet the rules of Obamacare, while small employers may have shed some employees or reduced hours to remain under the threshold where offering health-insurance benefits is required.
In New York state, the percentage of employers offering health insurance edged up to 48.9 percent in 2015 from 48.4 percent in 2014, but was still well below the 54.4 percent of firms that provided insurance in 2011, according to the SHADAC data.
Nationwide, 83.8 percent of workers were employed in jobs that were accompanied by offers of insurance, and 75 percent of workers who were eligible for the offered coverage chose to enroll — a relatively slight decline from previous levels. The data comes from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component, produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
States experienced wide variation in both employer-offered insurance and employee acceptance of those offers. Hawaii had the largest proportion of workers in jobs with employer-sponsored coverage (97.7 percent) and the highest employee take-up rates (81.5 percent). Montana had the lowest proportion of workers in jobs with employer coverage (66.6 percent), while Colorado had the lowest employee take-up of such offers (67.9 percent).
Nationwide, larger employers’ offers of health insurance increased by 1.2 percentage points, to 96 percent, but were offset by offers from small employers, which decreased by 2.8 percentage points, to 29.4 percent, per the study.
“Employer-sponsored coverage is the main source of health care coverage for Americans,” Kathy Hempstead, senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a news release. “Trends in this market segment continue to be stable overall, despite some decline in offer rates among smaller firms.”
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