The Relationship Between Union Status and Employment-Based Health Benefits

Source: Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Notes, Vol. 30 no. 10, October 2009

From the abstract:
This paper examines the relationship between health benefits and union status. Union workers are much more likely to have employment-based health benefits than nonunion workers. In September 2007, 82.7 percent of union workers were covered by health benefits through their own job, compared with 58.2 percent of nonunion workers. Overall, 94.2 percent of union workers had employment-based health benefits, compared with 76.4 percent of nonunion workers. Although union workers were less likely than nonunion workers to have employment-based coverage as a dependent (11.5 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively), union workers are much less likely to be uninsured. Only 2.9 percent of union workers were uninsured in September 2007, compared with 14.2 percent uninsured among nonunion workers. Since union workers account for a declining share of the working population in the private sector, further erosion of unionization is likely to coincide with overall erosion in the percentage of workers with employment-based health benefits, all else equal. Furthermore, any future decline in the size of the public sector that is unionized will only exacerbate the overall erosion in the percentage of workers with employment-based health benefits. The paper also examines the job characteristics of union and nonunion workers, as well as health benefits and job characteristics for union and nonunion workers. Union workers are more likely to be employed in the public sector, manufacturing industry, blue-collar occupations, and in full-time jobs. Union workers have higher annual earnings than nonunion workers.

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