NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Uninsured Growing at Large Firms

October 22, 2003

An increasing number of Americans lacking health insurance work for the country's major employers, according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund. It is not that companies are dropping health plans; more employees are choosing not to join their employers' plans.

And in order to control costs, fewer companies are offering benefits for part-time employees and more companies have raised eligibility standards. According to the Commonwealth study:

  • The percentage of large companies that offer benefits has actually increased slightly, to more than 99 percent in recent years, according to U.S. government survey data.
  • But between 1987 and 2001, the percentage of uninsured workers in large companies climbed to 11 percent from 7 percent.
  • Roughly one out of four people without health coverage in the United States -- about 10 million -- work part time or full time at companies with 500 or more workers, or are the dependents of these workers, the study's researchers say.

Behind the trend is a broader, longer-term shift in the labor market from manufacturing to retailing and other service sectors. The labor forces at those companies tend to experience higher turnover, earn lower wages and consist of more part-time workers.

Source: Vanessa Fuhrmans," Even at Giant Companies, Many Lack Health Benefits," Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2003; Sherry Glied, Sarah Little and Jeanne Lambrew, "The Growing Share of Uninsured Workers Employed by Large Firms," Commonwealth Fund, October 2003.

For WSJ text,,SB106677204712971300,00.html


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