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Number of Americans with employer-based health insurance is declining
By Insure.com staff

Most Americans under 65 years old receive health insurance through their employers, but their ranks are slowly declining.

The number of Americans with employer-based health insurance fell by more than 2 percentage points last year, to 59 percent. It’s the lowest level in 15 years, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

The latest decline appears to be a part of a trend that started in 2000. In addition, the number of Americans without health insurance increased to 18.9 percent in 2009, up from 17.4 percent in 2008.

Researchers attribute the trends to job losses from the recession and a slow economic recovery.

"With unemployment remaining high, these trends are almost certain to continue when the data are released for 2010," said Paul Fronstin, author of the EBRI report, in a media statement.

Federal COBRA subsidies that were meant to stem the erosion in employer-based health insurance coverage expired this summer, Fronstin noted. With the uncertain economy and lack of job security, a growing number of workers will likely forego health coverage, he said.

EBRI’s estimates of uninsured people are slightly higher than those published by the U.S. Census Bureau because it focused only people under age 65. Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled, automatically covers those over 65.

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