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Health Plan Premiums Vary Widely by State

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 3, 2009

A new set of tables from the federal government shows a wide state-by-state variation in what Americans paid in premiums for employer based health coverage in 2008.

Not only does the total amount of premium cost vary, but also the share paid by the employer versus the share paid by the employee.

For example, workers with families in Alaska were covered by health plans costing on average $13,383 a year, while $3,248 was paid by the employee and $10,135 paid by the employer. At the high end, plans in Alaska cost $20,000 a year, $8,000 more than the national average.

In contrast, a worker with a family in Alabama was covered by health plans costing on average $11,119, and the employee's share was $3,265 while the employer's cost was $7,855.

"What we're trying to point out is how this data varies from state to state," says Jim Branscome, statistician and project manager for the Agency for Health Research and Quality.

"If you look at where the premiums are most expensive, it's usually in those areas where the housing costs and wages are higher. A lot of healthcare premium costs are driven by what it costs a hospital to operate in New York, for example, versus the Midwest," he says.

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