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We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of certain types of health coverage and care (i.e. Medi-Cal, subsidies in Covered California, and our safety net programs). These programs need our support because our most vulnerable populations rely on them for their continued health. But sometimes it’s good to look at what remains the source of health coverage for the majority of Americans: employer-sponsored insurance (ESI).
Earlier this year, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) released an interesting analysis of state-by-state trends in ESI over the past decade. Their findings showed that across the country ESI enrollment has decreased in the last 10 years, seemingly in line with a common criticism of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): that it will reduce the availability of and enrollment in ESI. However, the researchers caution that the ACA should be monitored and evaluated within the context of the larger trends in ESI over the years preceding its implementation:
“As researchers and policymakers begin to measure the impacts of the ACA, it will be important to interpret them in light of long-term trends in ESI, such as the more than decade-long decline in ESI. Additionally, there are multiple components that factor into the decline of ESI coverage, and the effects of these components vary over time. For example, while a decline in take-up of ESI had the largest effect on ESI coverage during the pre-recession period, a decline in the availability of ESI offers had the largest effect during the post-recession period.”
The report says that after the recession, there were fewer full-time jobs available and part-time employees did not receive offers of ESI. Additionally, many smaller companies stopped offering ESI in the years following the recession.
California is about on par with the national average for percentage of employers offering ESI and is slightly above average for the percentage of employees taking up ESI (about 80%). There’s a lot more data and analysis in the report, so go check it out and learn more about the state of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage in California and the rest of the country.