Consumer / Employer

Report: Percentage of Workers Eligible for Employment-Based Coverage Increased 5% Since 2014

It was expected that the Affordable Care Act would lead to many employers dropping health benefits, but that did not happen, a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found.

It was expected that after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was implemented, many employers would stop offering workplace health insurance. But that wasn’t the case, a recent report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) showed. There was a 5% increase in the percentage of employees eligible for health benefits between 2014 and 2022.

EBRI is a nonprofit research organization focused on employee benefits. The report relies on the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component — which is a survey of private and public-sector employers — from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It analyzes how health insurance offer rates have been affected by the ACA and the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

The report found that in 2008, 56.4% of private-sector employers provided health benefits, but by 2016, this dropped to 45.3%. This percentage then increased to 51.1% in 2020, and then decreased to 48.3% in 2022.

In 2022, about 81% of employees of private-sector employers were eligible for health benefits, and this has been increasing since 2014, the report also found. Since 2013, about 99% of employers with at least 1,000 employees have been offering health benefits. In 2022, 97% of employers with 100 to 999 employees provided health benefits. It will likely stay this way, according to Paul Fronstin, director of health benefits research at EBRI.

“It is highly unlikely that larger and medium-sized employers will conclude that offering their own health plan is not crucial to the attraction and retention of workers. Despite the recent talk of whether the United States is in a recession, unemployment rates are currently at historically low levels. However, when the next business slowdown takes hold, it will be interesting to see if fewer larger and medium-sized employers continue to offer health coverage. This did not occur during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Fronstin said in a statement.

Smaller employers are less likely to offer health benefits, the report showed. Among those with fewer than 10 employees, 24.9% provided health benefits in 2022, down from 28% in 2013. About 53.6% of employers with 10 to 24 employees offered health benefits in 2022, up from 48.9% in 2015. About 80.1% of employers with 25 to 99 employees provided health benefits in 2022, compared to 73.5% in 2015.

Fronstin noted that there is a chance that employer health coverage could change in the future.

“It’s also possible that certain public policy changes, if adopted, may drive some employers — large and small alike — away from offering health benefits and cause some workers to care less about whether they get health coverage from their employer,” Fronstin said. “The tax exclusion of employment-based health coverage could be changed, an old idea that has recently come to light again. The Biden Health Care Plan and individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements may also disrupt the strong link between employment and health coverage.”

Photo: Nataliia Nesterenko, Getty Images