The US Census Bureau delivered some interesting numbers that are difficult to understand. New Hampshire’s private sector workers have the second highest rate of health insurance in the US. Massachusetts, with its mandated coverage, is number one. That state requires larger employers to provide health insurance to employees. But how did New Hampshire with its relatively small number of large businesses and its mostly hands off approach to government regulation get the number two spot?
“New Hampshire has been a competitive market for a long time,” says Jean Ryer, program director of Endowment for Health. “For larger employers offering health coverage has been the norm,” she says. That’s in part because historically the state has had low unemployment rates and fewer people looking for work. That means the state’s large employers have had to compete to attract workers. They’ve chosen to do that by offering health insurance.
“We’re still having trouble finding a skilled workforce for so-called ‘smart manufacturing,’” says Andrienne Rupp, Vice President of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire. Specifically, she says, hi-tech and component manufacturers are looking for workers. “Health insurance has long been a valuable benefit for employers,” Rupp says.
But New Hampshire employers pay some of the highest health insurance rates in the US–and those rates continue to go up.
“This is a time of drastic cutbacks in coverage and costs are being shifted to employees,” says Jean Ryer of Endowment for Health, “The quality of coverage has eroded over time.”