State/Local Employees

In most states, state employees, retirees and dependents tend to be the largest single insured group in the state, giving them significant purchasing clout.  Moreover, in some states, local employees and/or schoolteachers are part of the state employee group, giving them further purchasing leverage.

  • Total Workers. In 2008, there were 22,457 average monthly government workers (BLS: Table B-1). Using the distribution of federal, state and local workers from December 2008 (BLS: Table B-3), the estimated average monthly totals in 2008 were 5.2 million state and 14.5 million local workers (including schoolteachers).
  • Covered Workers. In 2008, 74.8% of all public workers age 18-64 were covered through their own employer’s health plan (no breakdown by federal, state or local was available; Fronstin: Figure 11). Assuming this is representative of both state and local workers, there were 3.9 million state and 10.8 million local workers covered through their employer’s health plan.
  • Covered Lives.  Assuming the ratio of covered dependents to covered workers is the same among state and local employees as for large employers with self-funded benefits (see Group Coverage), there were 8.0 million members in state employer health plans and 22.3 million in local government employer health plans.
  • Self-Funded Plans. 58% of state and local workers are in self-insured health plans (Pierron: 11). Applying this figure to covered workers and covered lives yields 4.6 million total members in self-funded state employer health plans and 12.9 million in plans for local government employers.


  • BLS. Employment and Earnings Report. January 2009; 56(1). [Full Text (pdf)]
  • Fronstin, Paul. Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2008 Current Population Survey. EBRI Issue Brief, no. 321 (Employee Benefit Research Institute, September 2008). [Full Text (pdf)]
  • Pierron, William and Paul Fronstin. ERISA Pre-emption: Implications for Health Reform and Coverage. Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Issue Brief #314, February 2008. [Full Text (pdf)]
  • is a one-stop-shop for the latest news, analysis and research about the issues facing the public sector and the American taxpayer. It provides a national forum to probe problems and develop solutions at the state and local level. Topics include health benefits and healthcare unions. is published by the Center for State and Local Leadership at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

One Response to “State/Local Employees”

  1. HARRY AYALA Says:

    This article was great. I have been searching for just this sort of article.Thank you for this information.

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