The share of U.S. children and working-age adults with employer-sponsored health insurance dropped 10 percentage points to 53.5 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to a National Institute for Health Care Reform study. Job loss, which jumped 10 percentage points to 31.6 percent in 2010, was the key driver of the decline, accounting for three-quarters of the drop since 2007.

Before the recession began in December 2007, however, a decline in employer coverage was under way with fewer firms offering coverage and fewer workers taking up coverage, likely because of rising costs.

Costs are increasing faster than wages, which makes employer coverage unaffordable for a larger share of the workforce, particularly low-wage workers. This decline also disproportionately affected young adults, people with a high school education or less and people employed in small firms. Other findings include:

  • Among young adults aged 18 to 27, the share in a working family dropped from 70 percent in 2007 to just more than 50 percent in 2010, and the share enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance dropped from 43 to 31 percent.
  • For people in families headed by someone with a high school education or less, the share in working families dropped by 16 percentage points to slightly more than half, and the share with employer coverage declined from 47 to 36 percent between 2007 and 2010.
  • Among working families, only those employed by firms with fewer than 100 workers experienced a statistically significant decline in employer coverage between 2007 and 2010, from 51 to 45 percent. Declines in the offer rate and the take-up rate contributed to a 6 percent drop.

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