Confidence Intervals

By Nevin Adams, EBRI


Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a report that included responses from more than 70 percent of America’s Fortune 100 companies—a report that indicated that those employers could “save hundreds of millions of dollars a year under the new health care law by simply terminating health insurance for their workers and dumping these employees into taxpayer-funded health care exchanges” (see the committee’s report, online here).

This, of course, follows recent arguments challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) before the United States Supreme Court—with a ruling anticipated by the end of June. At which point, regardless of the outcome, healthcare reform seems likely to remain an issue for the 2012 political campaign.

What remains to be known is what that will mean for employment-based health coverage(1)—and American’s confidence in their health care system.

Last year, EBRI’s Health Confidence Survey(2) noted that, in 2011, 57 percent of individuals with employment-based coverage were extremely or very confident that their employer or union would continue to offer health coverage. That was down from 68 percent in 2000, but most of that erosion occurred between 2000 and 2002.

Indeed, other than a one-year dip in 2010 (to 52 percent), the percentage who were extremely or very confident has remained just below 60 percent. And, for the very most part, individuals who had such coverage were satisfied with it (60 percent of those with health insurance coverage are extremely or very satisfied with their current plan, and 29 percent were somewhat satisfied—see this EBRI analysis, online here.

The 2011 HCS(3) did highlight some areas of concern. While more than half (56 percent) said they were extremely or very satisfied with the quality of the medical care they have received in the past two years, just 18 percent were extremely or very satisfied with the cost of their health insurance, and only 15 percent were satisfied with the cost of health care services not covered by insurance. Moreover, the 2011 HCS also found that individuals have a low level of confidence that they can afford to purchase health coverage on their own—even if their employer or union gave them the money to do so.

This year’s Health Confidence Survey (HCS) will be fielded in July, allowing time for the Supreme Court’s ruling to come to light, so that survey respondents can better assess and reflect on its impact on their circumstances. In this, the 15th annual HCS, the issues of health care cost, coverage, quality, and confidence in the future of the employment-based system are, if anything, more important than ever—and the need for a clear understanding of the American public’s attitudes on health care never greater.


(1) The Congressional Budget Office recently revised its estimates of the number of people projected to have employment-based coverage in the future. In a recent blog post, Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Education and Research Program, said: “As the CBO notes in a footnote for its 2019 estimates, as a result of PPACA, about 14 million fewer people are expected to have employment-based coverage (about 11 million individuals will lose access to employment-based coverage, and another 3 million will decline employment-based coverage and enroll in health insurance from a different source), while about 9 million will newly enroll in employment-based coverage under PPACA.” (see Fronstin’s blog, online here).

(2) The HCS is co-sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc., a Washington, DC-based market research firm. The 2011 HCS data collection was funded by grants from 12 private organizations. Staffing was donated by EBRI and Greenwald & Associates. HCS materials and a list of underwriters may be accessed at the EBRI website:  If your organization would like to help underwrite the 2012 HCS, please contact Ken McDonnell, at (202) 775-6367, or e-mail: or Paul Fronstin at (202) 659-0670, or e-mail:

(3) Additional information from the 2011 HCS is online here.