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January 23, 2014

Insurance through Work Slipping Away for Many

As Virginia lawmakers consider options to expand health insurance coverage to the state’s uninsured, it’s important to remember that one of the underlying, long-term trends driving the increase in the number of uninsured in Virginia is the decline in employer-sponsored health insurance.   

From 2000 to 2012, the share of Virginians that get health insurance from their employers declined to 65 percent from 73 percent.


Had the share of workers getting health insurance through their jobs held steady at that 2000 level, 600,000 more Virginians would have health insurance through their employer than do today.   

Without insurance, people often avoid seeking the preventive care that they need. And when they do get sick, their bank accounts can be crushed by high medical bills. 

Employer-sponsored insurance has long been a key feature of the U.S. health care system, but for more than a decade  employers have been cutting costs by shifting more insurance costs to workers – which can put coverage out of reach even if it’s offered – or dropping health insurance coverage altogether.

The marketplace is making the purchase of insurance a real possibility for some. But for others who make too little to qualify for tax credits in the marketplace and too much to qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, lawmakers need to do more to increase access to the health insurance they need for themselves and their families.

–Mitchell Cole, Research Assistant

The Commonwealth Institute

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