Fewer Americans getting health insurance through employers

Originally posted February 13, 2014 by Melissa Winn on http://ebn.benefitnews.com

Fewer people are getting their primary health insurance coverage through their employers, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday, which also reported the number of uninsured Americans has reached a five-year low.

The poll found 43.5% of Americans now get their primary health insurance coverage through their current or former employer, down from 45.5% in the fourth quarter of 2013. More people now say they have a plan fully paid for by themselves or a family member — 18% versus 17.2% at the end of last year.

The poll also found the percentage of uninsured Americans fell to 16%, down from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. While more than a month remains in the first quarter of 2014, Wednesday’s data show the uninsured rate appears to be on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level since 2008.

Although the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have health insurance went into effect Jan. 1, it’s still too early to tell if that requirement has led to the decline in uninsured Americans, the poll says. If the uninsured rate continues to fall over the next few months, however, it could suggest the Affordable Care Act is responsible for the decline, it adds.

Several provisions of the ACA have yet to go into effect, including the mandate for employer health insurance coverage by 2015 or 2016. These provisions are expected to affect the number of uninsured Americans, as well as what types of insurance they have.

The Gallup poll also found the percentage of Americans insured through Medicaid has increased to 7.4% from 6.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013. This increase may be because some states have chosen to participate in the Medicaid expansion under a provision of the ACA, the poll adds.

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