Written by: Joelle Abramowitz, Economist, Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division
New statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in 2015, 78.8 percent of employees worked for an employer who offered insurance to any of its employees, 71.0 percent of workers were eligible to take offered coverage, and 54.3 percent took the coverage offered by their employers.
The most common reason cited for not taking employer-sponsored coverage was being covered by another insurance plan (11.5 percent of workers), followed by not working enough hours per week or weeks per year to be eligible for coverage (5.3 percent) and the coverage being too expensive (5.0 percent). The percent of respondents who reported not working enough hours per week or weeks per year to be eligible for coverage and percent of respondents reporting the coverage being too expensive as the reasons for not taking employer-sponsored coverage are not statistically significantly different from each other.
The new data on the offer and take-up of employer-sponsored insurance were collected as part of the 2014 and 2015 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). The 2014 and 2015 research data files are available here.
The new questions are asked of respondents who were employed but did not have employer-sponsored coverage. The questions ask: 1) whether their employer offered coverage to any of its employees, 2) whether they were eligible for that coverage, if offered, 3) why they were ineligible, if offered and ineligible, and 4) why they chose not to take the coverage, if eligible. The questions refer to current coverage at the time of interview, covering February through April of the survey year.
Comparing estimates over early 2014 and 2015 shows an increase in the proportion of workers offered coverage by their employers (0.5 percentage points), as well as in the proportion of workers who were eligible to take offered coverage (0.9 percentage points).The increase in the proportion of workers offered coverage by their employers is not statistically significantly different from the increase in the proportion of workers who were eligible to take offered coverage. However, the data also show a decrease in the proportion of eligible workers who took offered coverage (1.5 percentage points), and, as a result, the proportion of all workers taking coverage remained stable over the period. For workers who reported that they did not take employer-sponsored coverage because they had coverage through another plan, the proportions with Medicaid, direct purchase, and a combination of private coverage types increased, while the proportions with military coverage and with dependent employer-sponsored coverage decreased.
The new questions on the offer and take-up of employer-sponsored insurance were added to the CPS ASEC as part of the 2014 redesign of its questions on health insurance. These new questions represent a significant data development, as they provide a large sample of employee-level data, complementing firm-level data available from other outlets. Similar offer and take-up questions were originally asked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the CPS Contingent Worker Supplement, but have not been asked since 2005.
For more information on these estimates and changes in the offer and take-up of employer-sponsored insurance, see New Estimates of Offer and Take-up of Employer-Sponsored Insurance. For more information on health insurance coverage in general, see the Census Bureau’s Health Insurance website.