Greater medical costs, higher insurance premiums, rising unemployment and expanded Medicaid reduced the percentage of Connecticut residents who receive health insurance through their employers, according to a new study released Thursday.
About 136,000 fewer Connecticut residents had health coverage through their workplace — a drop from 2.29 million residents to 2.16 million people between 2000 and 2011, according to the report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The percentage of Connecticut residents with health insurance through their employer was 79 percent in 2000 and 70.9 percent in 2011. Connecticut is better than the the nation as a whole, in which 59.5 percent of workers have health insurance through an employer.
One major factor is economic conditions. Unemployment in Connecticut rose from 2.3 percent to 8.3 percent of the state population during the same period. Additionally, in 2010, Connecticut had the largest percent increase of any state in Medicaid enrollment among low-income adults as the state became an early adopter of federal health care reform.
"During the recession, a lot lost their jobs and a lot of employers went out of business or made the decision to drop coverage, and then we're not seeing those employers coming back," said Lynn Blewett, director of the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center, which was commissioned to do the study.
Connecticut fared better than the nation overall with a drop of 8.1 percent in employer-provided health insurance compared with a decrease of 10.1 percent for the U.S.
States with the smallest decrease in employer-provided health insurance were Massachusetts, where state lawmakers overhauled the health care system with new mandates in 2006, and North Dakota and Alaska, where a robust economy is driven by energy production.
"Alaska and North Dakota, which are the oil industry states that have a lot of revenue, a lot of employment, a lot of jobs and a lot of competition for workers," Blewett said. "And then Massachusetts, we'd like to think it was the health reform effort."
On average, premiums for individuals in Connecticut who have employer-sponsored health coverage increased from $2,871 to $5,447 between 2000 and 2011, according to Blewett's research. Premiums for families increased from $7,125 to $15,577 during the same period.