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Changing conditions

The move from a manufacturing-based economy to a service economy and developing employee working patterns have led to unsteadiness in health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Almost 15 percent of employees had no employer-sponsored health coverage obtainable to them, either through their own job or through a family member.

The service sector tends to offer less access to health insurance than its manufacturing counterparts do. Further, an increasing reliance on part time and contract workers who are not qualified for coverage means fewer workers have access to employer-sponsored health insurance.

Small businesses are also less likely than corporations to offer benefits. In addition, those who often require employees to contribute a larger share towards their coverage. As a result, an increasing number of Americans have chosen not to take benefit of job-based health insurance, as they cannot afford it.

In some cases, such as Van Meter's, the trouble can even prompt a move to a job or career with improved benefits.

Beverly Beery, owner of Beery Insurance Services, said, "I always say to employers that the greatest benefit to workers, besides a paycheck, is health insurance. It's getting more and more important."



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