Which industry workers are least likely to have health insurance?

March 23, 2018 Posted by

Most would agree working in the insurance industry is relatively physically safe, aside from the sedentary lifestyle.  Let’s be honest, our biggest risk is exposure to sick people (although no where near healthcare workers) and possibly paper cuts.  We’re fortunate enough to have health insurance coverage should something like that happen.  However, there is a group of working professionals that lead the pack regarding the lack of health insurance coverage.  These workers are also at a very high risk of injury and illness.

More than half of roofers nationwide (50.5%) don’t have health insurance, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from career website Zippia. Other professions in the construction industry carry similarly high non-insured rates: Only 49.5% of drywall installers have health-care coverage, while 49.1% of plasterers and stucco masons go without insurance coverage. Nationally, the uninsured rate among full-time workers is just under 12%.

For these workers, though, insurance coverage is especially important as they work in a profession with an elevated risk of serious occupational injury. Construction has the eighth-highest rate of incidents involving nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses, per data from the BLS. Indeed, the top industry in this regard — agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting — also employs people who are far more likely to be without health insurance than the average worker.

Overall, 11 of the 20 professions with the highest shares of workers who don’t have health insurance are in construction:

Occupations with the highest levels of uninsured works
Occupation Uninsured Rate
Roofers 50.5%
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers and tapers 49.5%
Plasterers and stucco masons 49.1%
Dishwashers 47.3%
Fence erectors 45.7%
Carpet, floor and tile installers and finishers 45.2%
Miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders 43.9%
Painters and paperhangers 43.1%
Helpers, construction trades 42.8%
Helpers-installation, maintenance and repair workers 40.5%
Grounds maintenance workers 39%
Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers 38.7%
Brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons and reinforcing iron and rebar workers 38.6%
Fishing and hunting workers 38.3%
Pressers, textile, garment and related materials 38%
Cooks 38%
Construction laborers 37.5%
Waiters and waitresses 37.1%
Logging workers 35.2%
Graders and sorters, agricultural products 34.9%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

However, when injuries do occur in construction, there’s a significant chance that they will be serious. Construction accounted for 991 fatal work injuries in 2016, more than any other industry, according to the BLS. It also tied with mining and oil extraction for the third-highest fatal injury incidence rate, behind transportation and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.

Part of the problem facing workers in these industries is that many of them are contract workers, meaning work on a shorter-term basis. The construction and extraction industries accounted for 48% of contract workers who were fatally injured on the job, while the installation and repair field accounted for 16% of these individuals.

Other studies have shown that temp workers are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed on the job. Part of the problem: These workers don’t necessarily have as much on-the-job experience. Nearly a third of the nonfatal occupational injuries that occur happen within the first year on the job.

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