Eligible Employees Not Enrolling in Health Plans
The percentage of U.S. employees eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance who decided to enroll decreased from 85.3% in 1998 to 80.3% in 2003, according to a report released on Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. For the report, researchers at the University of Minnesota examined employer surveys conducted annually by the federal government (AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/4).
According to the report, the annual cost of health insurance premiums for an individual employee increased from an average of about $2,454 in 1998 dollars adjusted for inflation to about $3,481 in 2003, and employers paid about 82% of the cost in both 1998 and 2005.
Three million fewer employees enrolled in optional employer-sponsored health insurance in 2003 than in 1998, in part because of the 42% increase in the cost of premiums, the report finds (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 5/5).
RWJF CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said, "With premium rising each year for companies and their employees, millions of workers are no longer accepting the health insurance offered through their jobs. If trends continue, this could dramatically increase the number of working but uninsured people in this nation" (RWJF release, 5/4).
Lavizzo-Mourey added, "This report should be as alarming to Congress as it is to the American people because employer-sponsored health insurance is the backbone of America's health care system" (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 5/5).
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
PBS' "NOW" on Friday as part of "Cover the Uninsured Week" is scheduled to include a segment examining the approximately 45 million U.S. residents without health insurance, U.S. residents who purchase inexpensive policies that provide inadequate coverage, and a bill (SB 1955) sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that would allow small businesses and trade associations to partner to offer group health plans on a statewide or nationwide basis.
The segment also will profile a U.S. resident who purchased a policy from Mega Life & Health Insurance that did not provide benefits as advertised.
The program's Web site includes a photo essay, additional information about the legislation, consumer advice on selecting an insurance plan, links to related resources and a commentary by NOW new media senior producer Joel Schwartzberg ("NOW," PBS, 5/5).
A transcript of the program will be available online after the broadcast. Video of the program will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.