Recession drove more companies to scrap healthcare coverage

The number of private companies that offer healthcare benefits has fallen in the last decade, according to new research, with the sharpest drop coming just as the U.S. was beginning to feel the recession.

Just less than half of private workers said they could purchase healthcare coverage through their jobs in 2013, compared to 55.7 percent in 2005, a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows.

Many employers decided to cut back on healthcare benefits in wake of the recession, the researchers found. The percentage of employers who offered coverage dropped nearly 4 points between 2009 and 2013.

The trend was apparent in nearly every state. All but 15 states saw “significant declines” in the share of employers offering insurance, the report finds.

The report, which uses data from 2005 to 2013, specifically looked at the effects of the recession on healthcare coverage. Its findings do not say much about ObamaCare.

“Most Americans still get health insurance through their jobs, but this has been declining for more than a decade,” said Katherine Hempstead, a healthcare policy expert at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

She added that she will be paying close attention to the trend “now that there are more opportunities for coverage through the individual market and Medicaid.”

The report also hints at a larger trend in employer healthcare before the recession. Even before 2009, researchers found that a growing number of workers were declining their employers’ offers of insurance.

The percentage of workers who accepted their companies’ coverage fell by 2 points between 2005 and 2009.