Report: Employers providing health insurance steady

After two years of decline, the percentage of Washington employers offering health insurance stabilized in 2007, according to a survey released by the state Employment Security Department.
The percentage of employers offering health benefits to full-time workers stayed steady at 66 percent in 2007, the same rate as 2006. But the percentage of employers offering health insurance to part-time workers declined from 15.1 percent in 2004 and 2005, to 14.2 percent in 2006, to 11.2 percent in 2007 — a three-year decline of 3.9 percentage points.
The study did not produce clear data about the reasons for the decline. But the report notes that the drop in offerings for part-time workers could be due to em ployers attempting to maintain the benefits offered to their full-time workers.
The report, which has been produced annually by Employment Security since 2003, gives a picture of the medi cal insurance, retirement plans and paid leave offered to Washington employees.
“We hope that this information about trends in employee benefits gives job seekers, employers and policy-makers reliable information they can use to make informed decisions,” said Rick Lockhart, an Employment Security economist and co-author of the report.
The study also showed that average medical-insurance premiums increased by 2.1 percent for employees, to $345 per month, and by 1.8 percent for dependent coverage, to $553 per month.
In addition, 44 percent of Washington’s employers offered some type of retirement plans, with 39 percent offering defined-contribution plans (where an employees retirement benefits are based upon the amount contributed throughout his or her time of employment) and 7 percent offering defined-benefit plans (where the benefit-amount received upon retirement is guaranteed). Some employers offer both types of retirement plan.
The survey was sent last summer to about 17,000 Washington businesses with two or more employees and generated approximately 7,300 responses. Statewide, there are about 106,000 employers with two or more employees.