* Healthcare law should stabilize employer coverage
* Study shows decline in employer health coverage
WASHINGTON, June 21 Even though the number of
Americans with health insurance through employers has declined,
most will continue to get coverage through their jobs after the
new healthcare law takes full effect, studies released on
About 61 percent of non-elderly Americans got their
healthcare coverage through employers in 2009, down from 69
percent in 2000, according to a study sponsored by the
non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Low and
moderate-income families employed by small firms were the most
likely to be affected by a loss of employer-sponsered coverage.
Julie Sonier, a senior researcher at the University of
Minnesota who helped write the report, said the erosion in
employer-sponsored insurance in the decade before the
healthcare law was enacted underscored the need for action.
"When people don't have access to employer coverage, they
might get public coverage, they might be uninsured, there might
be a higher uncompensated care burden at their local hospital.
The costs are in the system somewhere," she said in a telephone
A second study by the centrist Urban Institute said it
expects the healthcare overhaul signed into law last year by
President Barack Obama to help small businesses provide medical
coverage to employees.
"Our results show significant health care cost savings
(under the law) to firms with fewer than 50 workers, as well as
a small increase in the number of people covered by their
employer-sponsored plans," the Urban Institute study said.
The law includes some tax incentives for small employers to
provide coverage and penalties for large employers with
employees who receive subsidized medical coverage on
state-based exchanges that will go into operation in 2014.
"The evidence suggests the Affordable Care Act may have a
stabilizing influence on small firm coverage," the study said.
The studies counter a recent report by Chicago consulting
firm McKinsey that said about 30 percent of employers will
"definitely" or "probably" stop offering health coverage once
the state insurance exchanges begin operation, which are to
provide a place for smal businesses and individuals to shop for
health insurance coverage.
That report sparked a fresh round of criticism of Obama's
healthcare law by Republicans who are pushing to repeal it.
Democrats demanded an explanation of the methodology, since
other reports, including the Congressional Budget Office, said
the law would have a small impact on employer coverage.
On Monday, McKinsey clarified that its report was a survey
of employer attitudes and "was not intended to be a predictive
economic analysis" of the impact of the new healthcare law.
The two studies sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation that were released on Tuesday said most of the
erosion in employer sponsored healthcare since 2000 was by
Four states, Mississippi, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota
saw a loss in employer-sponsored coverage that was twice as
large a the national average, according to the studies.
(Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing By Cynthia Osterman)