By Lauren Bikoff, MLS
In 2017, the overall percentage of private-sector employers offering health benefits increased for the first time since 2008, according to research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Between 2008 and 2016, the percentage of private-sector employers offering health benefits declined 11.1 percentage points, from 56.4 percent to 45.3 percent. However, it then increased to 46.9 percent in 2017. EBRI noted that there have been years before 2017 when offer rates increased in various specific firm size segments.
EBRI analyzed the data for 2017 in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Insurance Component (MEPS-IC), and noted the following trends:
- Fewer than 10 employees: The percentage offering such benefits increased from 21.7 percent to 23.5 percent between 2016 and 2017.
- Between 10 and 24 employees: The percentage increased from 48.9 percent to 49.4 percent between 2015 and 2016.
- Between 25 and 99 employees: The percentage increased from 73.5 percent to 74.6 percent between 2015 and 2016.
- Between 100 and 999 employees: The percentage increased from 92.5 percent to 96.3 percent between 2014 and 2016.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) requires that employers with 50 or more employees offer coverage or pay a penalty. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this provision. The percentage of these employers offering health benefits fell from 43.2 percent to 28.6 percent between 2008 and 2016, but then increased to 30.2 percent in 2017. However, EBRI found that for the very smallest employers, despite this recent uptick, offer rates remain well below 2008 levels.
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