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Workers say employer-provided health insurance is becoming less affordable: study

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New York — A growing number of workers with employer-provided health insurance are finding it less affordable, according to the results of a recent study by researchers at New York University.

Using 2000-2020 data from the National Health Interview Survey, the researchers identified nearly 240,000 adults who had employer-provided health insurance. Findings show that, in 2020, about 6% of women and 3% of men found all care services unaffordable – up from 3% and 2%, respectively, two decades earlier.

Women have felt especially vulnerable. Larger proportions of women than men reported finding medical care (3.9% vs. 2.7%), dental care (8.1% vs. 5.4%), prescription medications (5.2% vs. 2.7%) and mental health care (2.1% to 0.8%) to be unaffordable. Avni Gupta, lead study author and a doctoral student in the NYU School of Global Public Health, said in a press release that lower incomes and higher health care needs among women may be producing discrepancies in perceived affordability.

Gupta and her fellow researchers note that 61% of working-age adults had employer-provided health insurance as of 2019. Still, Gupta suggests that such insurance in recent years “has become less adequate” in offering financial protection for health services.

“People with health insurance coverage provided by employers generally think they are protected, but our findings show that health-related benefits have been eroding over time,” José Pagan, study co-author and chair of NYU’s Department of Public Health Policy and Management, said in the release.

The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


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