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US Health Coverage Rebounds—For Now

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 27, 2013

"CBO did some scenario modeling about 18 months ago and basically they came up with four scenarios," he says. "The worst scenario was 20 million fewer people with employer-based coverage as of 2019, and the best scenario was something like 5 million more covered by employer-based coverage. I throw up my hands; I can't make a prediction. What ultimately happens in terms of the number of people covered by employer-based coverage depends upon our assumptions."

The Census data from 2012 found that those most likely to get their coverage from employers include full-time, year-round workers; public-sector workers; workers in manufacturing; managerial and professional workers; and people in wealthy families. Poor families are most likely to be covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The EBRI study found that the overall percentage of people with public-program health coverage was unchanged in 2012, accounting for 22.6% of the nonelderly population. The percentage with individually purchased health coverage was slightly higher in 2012 but has basically hovered around 7% since 1994.

Fronstin says it's not clear if the exchanges and a move to the individual market will eventually replace employer-based coverage as the dominant access point for health insurance.

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