Health Insurance Quotes

Find Affordable Health Insurance Now

Yes No
Yes No

Bad news about health insurance for young male workers

The news isn't good for young male workers between the ages of 21 to 29: From 1979 to 1998, the number of them who had group health insurance through their own employers plummeted 25 percent, according to the Center for National Policy (CNP).

[Let Insure.com help you find affordable health insurance now.]

Labor market forces and health care costs have driven down the number of American workers able to obtain health insurance through their jobs.

According to CNP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., 74 percent of young male workers had group health insurance through their own employers in 1979. But that number dropped sharply to 49 percent by 1998.

These and other startling statistics were compiled by CNP for its June 11, 2001, study called "How the New Labor Market is Squeezing Workforce Health Benefits." The study's authors conclude that while "employer-based benefits are the linchpin of the nation's health insurance system," over the last two decades, labor market forces and health care costs have driven down the number of American workers able to obtain health insurance through their jobs. The share of workers under age 65 with health insurance through their own employer fell from two-thirds (66 percent) in 1979 to just over half (54 percent) in 1998, the study shows.

According to the authors, the study is based on data from the Current Population Survey results for 1997 through 1998 and hourly compensation figures from the United States Department of Labor. The authors says they used the data to gauge the extent of decline in employer-sponsored group health insurance across various industries, occupations, and wage groups.

Gender gap narrows at men's expense

The CNP study finds that while the number of workers with health insurance benefits through their own jobs has declined, the previously wide gap that existed between men and women closed significantly. The study says that in 1979, 74 percent of men and only 54 percent of women had health benefits through their jobs. But by 1998, the gap had shrunk to 13 points (60 percent for men vs. 47 percent for women.)

Young adults age 19 and 20 are twice as likely to be uninsured as young children or older adults.

However, the authors point out that the reduction was clearly not due to any gains in health benefits compensation for female workers, but rather the much sharper decline in health benefits experienced by men. From 1979 to 1998, the proportion of men under age 65 receiving health benefits from their own employers fell from 74 percent to 60 percent.

The men hardest hit were likely to come from the manufacturing or service sector and comprise the lowest 40 percent of wage earners, according to the study. "While the increase in two-earner families has offset some of this loss, the general trend indicates that the low-wage workforce of the future may encounter reduced access to affordable health insurance," the study says. "Moreover, adult workers have few public health insurance options if their jobs do not offer a health plan."

CNP's findings echo those of the study called "On Their Own: Young Adults Living Without Health Insurance," published in May 2000 and based on The Commonwealth Fund's 1999 National Survey of Workers' Health Insurance. That report shows that young adults age 19 and 20 are twice as likely to be uninsured as young children or older adults.

CNP's study also finds:

  • Among manufacturing employees, the number of workers receiving health insurance through their own jobs fell from 87 percent in 1979 to 74 percent in 1998, a 15 percent drop.
  • The proportion of workers in firms with more than 500 employers with own-employer benefits (who received health insurance through their own jobs) fell from 86 percent in 1979 to 65 percent in 1998, a 25 percent drop. This compares with a 10 percent drop among businesses with fewer than 100 employees (from 44 percent to 39 percent).
  • In the expanding securities and investment industry, the proportion of workers with insurance through their own jobs fell more than 16 percentage points from 1979 to 1998, one of the steepest declines of any industry sharper than the drops for such declining industries as electrical machinery (14 percent) and chemicals and allied manufacturing (13 percent).

Ready to get a quote?

Get quick and easy health insurance quotes


Yes No

Insure.com Redesign Survey