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Public and Private Employee Health Insurance Costs

By August 18, 2015Commentary

The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality releases a Statistical Brief covering health insurance costs for private and government employees for 2013.  (Stat. Brief)  It is a pretty well proven fact that government workers are paid more and get far better health, retirement and other benefits that similar employees in the private sector.  This brief adds to that proof.  Based on survey data from 2013, it finds that about 116 million of the 133 million employees in the US that year had access to health insurance through their workplace and about 60% were enrolled in a plan (this included only the employees directly enrolling, not when they may have been a dependent on another employed person’s plan).  Average annual public sector premiums were $6611 for single coverage, $12,186 for single plus one and $17,270 for family coverage.  In the private sector, comparable premiums were $5571 for single, $10990 for single plus one and $16029 for family.

And then let’s look at employee contributions to those premiums.  Here we see that for government workers the premium-sharing was $722 for single coverage, $2606 for employee plus one and $3155 for family; while in the private world the premium share was $1170 for single, $2940 for single plus one and $4421 for family.  Geographically, there was some variance in premium and cost sharing, with the west coast and northeast tending to be most expensive and the south the least costly.  Whether private employees are paying too much and getting poorer benefit designs than they should or public workers are getting too rich a plan and not paying enough for it, it is fundamentally unfair that those in the real economy who pay the taxes to support government employees have worse benefits and pay more for them.

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