More on Employer-Based Health Benefits

A couple of weeks ago in writing about ERISA, I included some data on the stability of health benefits provided by large companies.  The Kaiser Family Foundation just released their 2008 Employer Health Benefits Survey.  Below is the updated chart from my earlier post.

Large Companies (>199 employees) Offering Health Benefits:
Eligibility, Take-Up and Coverage Rates

KFF Annual Survey 1999-2008

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Report also included an interesting table that provides some insight into what I wrote earlier this week about the differences in employer health benefits between high and low turn-over industries.  The relevant information from  the Kaiser report’s Exhibit 2.3 is below:

Percentage of Firms Offering Health Benefits by Industry in 2008
Agriculture/Mining/Construction                                                67%
Manufacturing                                                                           73%
Transportation/Communications/Utilities                                    89%*
Wholesale                                                                                74%
Retail                                                                                        40%*
Finance                                                                                    81%*
Service                                                                                     58%
State/Local Government                                                           97%*
Health Care                                                                              71%
ALL FIRMS                                                                          63%

[* Estimate is statistically different (p<.05) from all other firms not in the industry category.]

Given the findings of the research discussed in my other post, these industry differences shouldn’t be surprising.  However, I do wonder if after this week the Finance Industry will still be on the high end of providing health benefits.  Of course, it also raises the question of whether financial firms that survive through a federal “bailout” or “takeover” (whatever the end result is) will offer health benefits 97% of the time like state and local governments?  If so, then the number of employees that have access to health benefits may increase – although I also suspect that the number of employees in that industry may decline overall, and possibly add to the number of people without health insurance.

In any case, I’m confident that the issue of employees’ health benefits will not be a significant concern for those trying to work out stabilizing solutions for the upheaval in the financial industry.  This would be consistent with the priorities that led to the famous statement about the 1992 Presidential campaign, “It’s the economy stupid.”  Or was it, “It’s the stupid economy”?

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