Number of Americans receiving health benefits from work drops - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Number of Americans receiving health benefits from work drops

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

Do you get your health insurance through your job? Chances are, you're not.

The share of Americans who get health benefits through work dropped to 60 percent in 2011.

U.S. employers provided coverage for 159 million people in 2011, 12 million fewer than in 2000, according to a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

So what's behind the decline?

Richard Cole the owner of the Pier in Quincy says that like many businesses across the tri-states, he's having to cut back on the number of full time employees he's hiring because paying for their health care benefits is just too costly.

Of the 20 employees that work at the Pier Restaurant in Quincy, six of them are part time.

Owner Richard Cole says he has slashed the number of full time employees in half over the past 10 years.

Cole says unfortunately, it's going to stay that way because the fewer full time employees he has, the less he has to pay in health insurance premiums.

"If you can't be profitable as a business or at least pay your bills and stay open, then you can't be in business and then 19 or 20 people are looking for a job," said Cole.

And Winters Insurance agent Chuck Mahon says business owners like Cole aren't alone.

"Costs are rising faster than the economy in Quincy and the surrounding area as well, we've seen increases anywhere from 10-30% in a years time," said Mahon. 

According to a recent study by the U.S. Census, since the year 2000, the average premium for a single employee doubled to $5,081. With the average family premium rose 125 percent to $14,447.

And Mahon says the only thing employers like Cole can do is make the difficult decision on what's best not only for the business but employees as well.

"The bottom line is, is this a benefit that we can continue to afford to provide for our employees," said Mahon.

And as for Cole, he says if things don't start to look up soon, the consequencesFor job seekers could be dire.

"It just adds another burden to the restaurant and what it's going to do eventually is require most people to cut their full time people back to part time people so they can figure out a way around it," said Cole.

Because of the Affordable Health Care Act, starting January 1st, employers will be required to provide affordable health insurance to employees.  However, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from employer responsibility requirements.

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