Employer-provided Health Insurance Down

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) — The number of U.S. adults with employment-based health insurance dropped by more than 2 percentage points last year, a non-partisan research institute says.

A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington calculates that overall, the percentage of U.S. employees under age 65 with employment-based coverage declined from 61.1 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009 — the lowest level in the 15-year period from 1994 to 2009.

Those who were employed and did not have health insurance increased to 18.9 percent in 2009, up from 17.4 percent in 2008, the report says.

“These trends are due to job losses resulting from the recent recession and the slow economic recovery, fewer workers being eligible for health insurance coverage and more workers with coverage choosing to drop it,” study author Paul Fronstin says in a statement. “With unemployment remaining high, these trends are almost certain to continue when the data are released for 2010.”

Fronstin notes that along with fewer people likely to be working this year and losing access to healthcare, federal COBRA subsidies provided under terms of the stimulus funds that allowed the unemployed to retain healthcare benefits expired during the summer of 2010.

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