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US Health Coverage Rebounds—For Now

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 27, 2013

Even with the overall declines over the past 18 years, employer-based coverage remains the dominant source of healthcare coverage for most working non-elderly adults, ages 18–64. In 2012, 58.5% of the nonelderly population had employment-based health benefits, down from the peak of 69.3% in 2000 from 1994–2012. The 2011 level was 58.4%, essentially the same as 2012. The working-age population with health insurance coverage increased to 82.3% in 2012, up from 82% in 2011 and 81.5% in 2010. The uninsured rate for that group was 17.7% in 2012, down from 18% in 2011, the report says.

Fronstin says it's all but impossible to predict how the exchanges and the individual market will affect employer-based coverage in the coming years because estimates have been all over the map.

"When you look at [Congressional Budget Office] estimates on what is going to happen, they show a lot of people losing coverage but a lot of people gaining coverage," he says. "You are going to have some small businesses that will go to these exchanges that never offered coverage before because they never had a vehicle. They don't have to worry about that one sick person making coverage unaffordable for them. There could be a lot of dynamics here."

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