Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey

Like most people in the United States right now, I am a bit overwhelmed by the health care debate. It's such a complex issue and it is moving so quickly that for the last month I have largely tuned out the details. But today, I was reading a story from the Los Angeles Times that caught my attention because it had some interesting details on the benefits offered by small firms. So, I followed the sources and ended up at the 2008 Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey. While I am still pouring over the results, there were a couple of things about this survey which I found interesting. It's not a survey which researchers can access microdata but I think the survey still has a lot of good material. 

The first thing that struck me was this chart:


What this would seem to imply is that it is not necessarily the incidence of small firms offering health insurance which differs from large firms but rather it is the details of the plans which are offered which can vary significantly.

On the methodology section of the report, I thought their adjustments this year to get additional survey response might be useful for others doing work in this area or just conceptually for those trying to raise their response rates.

The Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2008 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey (Kaiser/HRET) reports findings from a telephone survey of 1,927 randomly selected public and private employers with three or more workers. Researchers at the Health Research & Educational Trust, the National Opinion Research Center at The University of Chicago, and the Kaiser Family Foundation designed and analyzed the survey. National Research, LLC conducted the fieldwork between January and May 2008. In 2008 our overall response rate is 48%, which includes firms that offer and do not offer health benefits. Among firms that offer health benefits, the survey’s response rate is 50%.

From previous years’ experience, we have learned that firms that decline to participate in the study are less likely to offer health coverage. Therefore, we asked one question of all firms with which we made phone contact where the firm declined to participate. The question was, “Does your company offer or contribute to a health insurance program as a benefit to your employees?” A total of 2,832 firms responded to this question (including 1,927 who responded to the full survey and 905 who responded to this one question). Their responses are included in our estimates of the percentage of firms offering health coverage. The response rate for this question was 71%. Since firms are selected randomly, it is possible to extrapolate from the sample to national, regional, industry, and firm size estimates using statistical weights. In calculating weights, we first determined the basic weight, then applied a nonresponse adjustment, and finally applied a post-stratification adjustment. We used the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics of U.S. Businesses as the basis for the stratification and the post-stratification adjustment for firms in the private sector, and we used the Census of Governments as the basis for post-stratification for firms in the public sector. Some exhibits in the report do not sum to totals due to rounding effects and, in a few cases, numbers from distribution exhibits referenced in the text may not add due to rounding effects.

Read more from the methodology. Get historical surveys. I was trying to find a copy of the actual questionnaire used but didn't have any luck. If someone has or can point me to the link, I'd appreciate.

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