Percentage receiving employer-based health benefits tumbles

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The number of workers covered by employment-based health benefits dropped 4 percentage points from 2003 to 2004, according to a new study. In 2004, there were 59.8% (174.2 million) workers covered, down from 63.6% a year earlier.

"The erosion in employment-based health benefits is expected to continue ... as long as the cost of providing health benefits continues to increase," according to report authors. The study was conducted by the Washington-based Employee Benefits Research Institute, which released findings Monday.

A clear majority of Americans with healthcare coverage receive it through an employer, either their own or a family member's.

The larger the employer, the more likely a person would be to have healthcare coverage. Individuals with a family leader working at a company with fewer than 10 workers had a 31% probability of being uninsured, the study found. The probabilities of being insured at larger firms were as follows: 26% if firm employed 10 to 24 workers; 20% for 25 to 99 workers; 14% for 100 to 499 workers; 12% for 500 to 999 workers; and 11% for 1,000 or more workers.

The full report can be seen at www.ebri.org/pdf/EBRI_Notes_10-2005.pdf.