Report sheds new light on availability of health insurance

More than half of Washington employers offer health care insurance to full-time workers, according to a new report released recently by the Washington State Employment Security Department. The utilities and wholesale trade industries rank at the top of the list of industries likely to provide coverage, while the food and lodging and agriculture industries are least likely to offer health insurance.

The report, based on a survey of Washington employers, examines a variety of benefits offered by employers, including health insurance, retirement, paid vacation time, and sick leave.

“This report provides valuable information about the availability of benefits offered by Washington’s employers,” said Chief Economist Rick Kaglic. “Benefits costs, such as health insurance, have been rising rapidly in recent years. This report allows us to quantify how many employers provide benefits, and track changes in those provisions from year to year.”

The study showed that 63 percent of employers provide health care benefits to full-time workers, while 12 percent of firms cover part-time workers. Slightly fewer cover workers’ dependents.

Paid vacation leave is the most commonly provided benefit, with 73 percent of firms offering it to full-time workers and 20 percent to part-time workers. Paid sick leave, however, was less common. Forty-six percent of employers offer this benefit to full-time workers and 12 percent cover part-timers. Thirty-nine percent of employers offer a retirement plan to their full-time employees and 12 percent cover part-time employees.

Large companies – those with 100 or more workers – are more likely to offer benefits. In fact, 96 percent of large firms offer health insurance to full-time workers, whereas 55 percent of very small firms – those with two to nine workers – offer coverage to full-time workers.

The findings are from the Washington State Employee Benefits Survey conducted by the Washington State Employment Security Department’s Labor Market and Economic Analysis Branch. Surveys were sent to more than 16,000 Washington firms late last year, with valid responses received from about 9,300. Replies were used to estimate findings for all Washington employers with two or more employees and that are covered by the state unemployment insurance program.