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Report: employer-sponsored insurance on decline

A new report finds that there has been significant erosion in employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) over the last decade in Minnesota.

The report, State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance, was produced by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) and funded by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report finds that ESI coverage for the non-elderly declined from 81 percent in 1999/2000 to 71 percent in 2008/2009 (the most recent years data are available). The decline is two percentage points greater than the decline experienced by the nation as a whole.

During this same time period the percent of non-elderly Minnesotans who had public health insurance increased significantly from 8 percent to 15 percent; and the percent with no coverage increased significantly from 7 percent to 9 percent.

Poor Minnesotans bore the greatest burden in loss of ESI. ESI coverage among non-elderly with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline—or about $44,000 for a family of four in 2009—decreased from 44 percent to 34 percent. There was no significant change in ESI among non-elderly Minnesotans at 400 percent of federal poverty guideline or higher.

Dependent coverage under ESI declined significantly, with 240,000 Minnesota dependents losing ESI coverage over this time period. The percent of Minnesota families having all family members enrolled in ESI declined 4 percent.

“Employers have been the primary source for health insurance for most families in Minnesota. So it is concerning to see a decade-long significant drop in coverage rates in the state,” said Lynn Blewett, SHADAC director and professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “It’s especially troubling to see that moderate- to low-income families are disproportionately affected by the drop in employer-sponsored coverage.”