Economic Find: Dwindling Health Benefits

We don’t live on our paychecks alone.  During World War II, employers started providing pretty generous benefit packages to their workers.  As these benefits have gotten more expensive, employers have gradually shifted the costs to their employees.

This trend accelerated between 1989 and 2004 (see chart below), during which the percentage of full-time workers with employer-provided medical insurance fell from 80% to 66%.  The numbers have fallen another 2 percentage points in the last 7 years.

The costs of health care plans to employees have become increasingly prohibitive.  Due to high deductible policies, currently about 10.7 million insured Americans spend over a quarter of their annual paychecks on health care.  In 2009, 16.7% of the American population went without health insurance.

Health Benefits


Based on the 2006 Field Guide to the U.S. Economy. “Shrinking Health Benefits.” 2.7: 27.



Updated and Revised by CPE Intern Slavena Molle and Member Economist Sue Holmberg

November 2011


Collins, Sara, Jennifer Kriss, Michelle Doty and Sheila Rustgi. “Losing Ground: How the Loss of Adequate Health Insurance is Burdening Working Families.” The Commonwealth Fund.–How-the-Loss-of-Adequate-Health-Insurance-Is-Burdening-Working-Families–8212-Finding.aspx

Families USA. “Worry Less Spend Less.”