A new study reports on the decreasing availability of health insurance as a fringe benefit. As health insurance premiums have risen, many employers have offered less generous benefits. As of 2010, only about two-thirds of working adults were covered by employer-provided health plans (either their own or through a family member). And because many people have suffered unemployment lately, only 58% of adults under 65 (not yet eligible for Medicare) had these benefits.
The study found a significant decrease in the number of workers offered and accepting health benefits over the last ten years. Almost half of the survey respondents stated that their employers did not offer health insurance. Others (about 15%) were not eligible, usually because they worked part-time, and a quarter of the respondents chose not to participate, either because they had coverage elsewhere, or could not afford the employee portion of the price.
Smaller businesses are less likely to offer health benefits. Government employees and union workers enjoy more health benefits than private sector non-union workers. In addition, employees with higher education levels are more likely to be offered health insurance at work.
Many of the opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act seem to imply that nearly everyone is already insured at work, or otherwise has options. This study shows that the availability of health insurance is spotty, and emphasizes that smaller employers simply do not offer such benefits. The portion of the law permitting parents to cover their children until age 26 has proven very popular. It is time to reconsider whether expecting most people to obtain health insurance benefits from their jobs is rational.