he Program on the Future of Health Insurance envisions an efficiently run health insurance system that makes available to all Americans comprehensive, affordable coverage. In support of that vision, the program seeks to:
Employers, both private and public, are the primary source of health insurance for people under age 65 (Medicare covers most of the elderly). Some 160 million U.S. workers and their dependents receive health benefits through the workplace. But in recent years, good, comprehensive coverage has been harder to come by. Although annual growth in national health care expenditures and premiums has leveled off at around 7 percent, it continues to outpace economic and wage growth by a wide margin. As a result, employers that provide health benefits—especially small firms—are finding it difficult to maintain their level of generosity.(1) (2) (3)
Businesses have tried to cope by sharing more of their expenses with employees, but some small companies have eliminated health benefits altogether.(4)
Nearly the entire increase in the number of uninsured Americans between 2000 and 2005—from 40.2 million to 46.6 million—is attributable to the decline in employer coverage.