Continued Drop in Employer-based Health Coverage Highlights Importance of Maine’s Public Health Care Coverage

Monday October 29th, 2007

The Washington DC-based Economic Policy Institute released today a report called The Erosion of Employment-Based Insurance , by EPI economist Elise Gould , showing that across the United States, the percentage of Americans under age 65 with employer-provided health insurance has dropped 4.5 percentage points, from 64.2% in 2000 to 59.7% in 2006. This has been the primary reason for a rise in the number of uninsured Americans by nearly 8.6 million, from 38.4 million in 2000 to 47.0 million in 2006.

Individuals among the bottom 20% of household income were the least likely to have employer coverage; 21.9% of the bottom income quintile were covered compared to 86.2% for people in the highest income quintile.

While Maine’s employer sponsored coverage dropped similarly – by 5.3 percentage points for its population under age 65 – our uninsurance rate is not as severe as the nation’s. Maine’s uninsurance rate in 2005-06 was 11% vs. 18% for the nation as a whole. [i] As noted in the Maine Development Foundation’s Measures of Growth 2007, “Maine is a recognized innovator among states when it comes to health care reform and pursuing strategies to increase health coverage. Between 1999 and 2005, Maine rose to one of the top five states nationally in the percentage of citizens between the ages of 18-64 that have some form of health insurance.” [ii]

Maine has been intentionally filling the gap left by the drop in employer-based health coverage with its Medicaid (MaineCare) program. Maine is now one of the top five states in the country for covering low-income adults and children, according to the Commonwealth Fund. [iii]

To access the full report: The Erosion of Employment-Based Insurance.

[i] Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Health Insurance Coverage of Nonelderly 0-64, states 2005-06.

[ii] Maine Development Foundation. Measures of Growth 2007., p. 27.

[iii] The Commonwealth Fund. Commission on a High Performance Health System. State Scorecard Data Tables, June 2007. p. 22.