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For Employer-Based Health Insurance, Metros With Higher Education Institutions Have More Coverage

THURSDAY, SEP 19, 2019

While the concentration of employers is spread unevenly throughout the U.S., metro areas with a high percentage of adults who get health insurance from their workplace have one thing in common: They live in metros with well-educated people.

Eight of the 10 places where the most adults get their health insurance from employers include a major college campus or research facility, according to an analysis of 2013-17 American Community Survey data available from Social Explorer. These data include detailed information on insured people by age, gender, race, income, type of insurance and more.

Only one of these top 10 places have a majority of working-age adults receiving health insurance from their employer – Ames, Iowa, where 51.6 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 64 claim to have workplace coverage. Ames is the home of Iowa State University, the largest college in the state.

Visualize and analyze where working age adults receive health insurance from their employer on the MSA level. Click here to explore further.


Although workplace coverage remains the primary source of health insurance for the entire U.S. population, public programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are gaining as health-care costs continue to rise rapidly. And while many employers subsidize insurance coverage for their workers, the costs of health-care coverage have risen; A National Conference of State Legislatures report found the typical American family now pays $19,616 annually in premiums for employer-provided health insurance. Even though the premiums are heavily offset by employer contributions, the average family still pays $5,547 for coverage — a 65 percent increase since 2008, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The metros with the highest percentage of employer-based health insurance coverage tend to be wealthier and more liberal than those with low employer-covered rates. Los Alamos, the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and an enclave for millionaires, fell just short of a majority of adults with employer coverage; 49.9 percent of people between 19 and 64 said they were insured through either their workplace or a family member’s employer. State College, the home of Penn State University, tied for third with Laramie, which hosts the University of Wyoming. Both towns had 49.6 percent of working-age adults getting health insurance through their employer.

Madison, the home of the University of Wisconsin and the state’s capital, was fifth with 48.8 percent getting health-care via the workplace. Other metro areas in the top 10 included Columbia, Mo. (48.4 percent); Ann Arbor, Mich. (47.9 percent); Juneau, Alaska (47.2 percent); Iowa City, Iowa (47.2 percent); and Williston, N.D. (47 percent). 

The metro areas with low percentages of employer-based health insurance were either very poor or very old. Gallup, N.M., topped the list, with only 14.5 percent of its working-age adults getting health insurance from their employer. Almost half of the city’s adults get health-care through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid.

Other cities with low rates of employer-based health insurance coverage included Rio Grande City, Texas (15.7 percent); Arcadia, Fla. (17.1 percent); Deming, N.M. (17.4 percent); and The Villages, Fla. (17.4 percent), where the median age of 66.4 makes it the oldest in the nation and home to a high concentration of people insured by Medicare.


Author: Frank Bass

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