The percentage of workers who accepted their employer's offer of healthcare insurance dropped from 85.3 percent in 1998 to 80.3 percent in 2003, according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The drop means 3 million fewer workers who are eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage elected to enroll in it over that period, the foundation notes.
Over the same period, insurance premiums increased by 42 percent after adjustment for inflation (from $2,454 in 1998 dollars adjusted for inflation to $3,481 in 2003).
In both 1998 and 2003, the average employee paid approximately 18 percent of the annual premium for individual coverage, according to the report. The employer continued to pay the remaining 82 percent of the cost.
"With premium rising each year for companies and their employees, millions of workers are no longer accepting the health insurance offered through their jobs," says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "If trends continue, this could dramatically increase the number of working but uninsured people in this nation."
The foundation released the report as part of Cover the Uninsured Week.