Long Before ObamaCare, Forced Unionism Was Undermining Private Health Insurance


Over the past few weeks, millions of Americans have learned that they will lose private health plans they had individually purchased or obtained through their employers once a host of ObamaCare rules and regulations take effect at the beginning of next year.

Popular discontent about health policy cancellations is rising, and more and more Americans are calling for a major rollback of ObamaCare meddling in private insurance markets or flat-out repeal of the law.

While it is reasonable to conclude that most of the policy cancellations occurring now are due to ObamaCare, it is also true that private insurance coverage nationwide has been declined substantially over the past decade.  From 2002 to 2012, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show the number of people across the U.S. with private insurance coverage, either employment-based or individually purchased, fell by 5.35 million.  (See the link below for more information.)

The data also show, however, that some states are doing are far better than others at creating and retaining good jobs that offer health-insurance benefits.   And overwhelmingly, the states that are doing the best have Right to Work laws on the books prohibiting the exaction of forced union dues or fees from employees who choose not to join a union.

Ten of the top 12 states for growth in the number of people with private health insurance coverage over the last decade had Right to Work laws on the books for the entire period.  Meanwhile, of the seven states suffering the greatest declines in the number of people covered, every single one lacked a Right to Work law through 2011, and just one (Indiana) had a Right to Work law by the end of 2012.

Overall, private insurance coverage in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the whole decade increased by 1.6%, while coverage fell by 4.9% in the 27 states that lacked Right to Work protections for the entire time.

An array of unhelpful federal and state policies played a role in the overall decline in private health insurance coverage since 2002, and enactment of a national Right to Work law prohibiting forced union dues in all 50 states would not be a panacea for the problem.  However, the data indicate that, along with fixing the many problems being caused by ObamaCare, an expansion of Right to Work protections to the whole country would likely help millions of Americans to get and/or keep good jobs that furnish health-insurance benefits for themselves and their families.

States that continuously had Right to Work laws on the books from 2002 to 2012 saw an aggregate increase in private health insurance coverage of 1.18 million over the decade. Meanwhile, private health insurance coverage in states that lacked Right to Work laws for the whole period fell by 6.06 million. Image: Georgetown Public Policy Review

Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State–All Persons: 1999 to 2012