Fewer Employers Offering Health Benefits To Workers: Survey

Fewer Jobs Offer Health Insurance Benefits, Leaving Workers To Fend For Themselves

Jobs are the number-one source of health insurance coverage for Americans, but fewer employers are offering health benefits to their workers and more employees are becoming uninsured, a new survey shows.

In 2010, 67.5 percent of U.S. workers had jobs that included health benefits, down from 70.1 percent in 1997, the Employee Benefit Research Institute reports. The high cost of health insurance and other factors also led to a greater share of employees turning down health benefits even when available, the report says. Two years ago, 83.6 percent of workers who were offered benefits signed up for company health insurance compared to 86 percent in 1997, the report says. (h/t The Hill.)

Rising health care costs are making health insurance too costly for employers and workers alike. President Barack Obama's health care reform law aims to stabilize the market for employer-based health insurance by levying financial penalties against companies that don't offer coverage, but the Congressional Budget Office predicts some firms will drop the benefits anyway. Nevertheless, jobs will remain the main way Americans get health insurance and the number of Americans covered through work will rise from 154 million this year to 161 million by 2022, according to the CBO.

Some workers will have to move to other forms of health insurance, according to the CBO. Most will find alternative coverage elsewhere that may be subsidized by the federal government -- unlike in the current health insurance marketplace -- unless the Supreme Court repeals the health care reform law when it issues a decision by the end of June.

More than 30 million uninsured Americans will obtain coverage from private health insurance through regulated and subsidized "exchanges" or from Medicaid, if the health care law isn't overturned. Fourteen million people who otherwise would have gotten insurance at work will lose those benefits and three million will become uninsured, the CBO projects.

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