Fewer employers offering health benefits, study says

Fewer employers are offering healthcare coverage and fewer employees are taking it, a new study reports.

The survey, conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), found a steady drop in the number of private-sector employers that offer health benefits to their workers.

Some Republicans believe President Obama’s healthcare law will spark employers to drop coverage in droves, choosing instead to dump their employees into newly created insurance exchanges. But the EBRI study suggests that employers have been gradually shifting away from offering healthcare benefits for years.

Seventy percent of workers had access to health insurance through their jobs in 2010, EBRI said, which fell to about 67.5 percent by 2010.

About 57 percent of U.S. workers got health insurance from their employers in 2010, down about 3 percentage points since 1997, the study says.

Employer-based coverage is still by far the biggest source of health insurance in the United States. Public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid only cover about 5 percent of the workforce, and barely 3 percent of workers buy coverage on their own, whether their employers offer it or not.