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Wide Variations Persist in Health Insurance Costs

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   November 02, 2016

Stagnating incomes make even modest premium increases more damaging to families and there are significant differences in premium costs among states, says a Commonwealth Fund report.

Employees' contributions to their health insurance premiums grew at a slower pace than might have been expected between 2010 and 2015 in 30 states and Washington, DC, but U.S. families are spending a bigger share of their income on healthcare because income increases have not kept pace with rising healthcare costs.

Although consumers on the open market are being hit with sometimes double-digit premium increases as their deductibles continue to climb ever higher, employers appear to be absorbing more modest increases with little difficulty, according to a Commonwealth Fund state-by-state analysis that compared the cost of employer health insurance between 2006 and 2015.

The vast majority of people under age 65 in the country, 154 million, get their health insurance through an employer, the report notes.

The report found that families spent an average of 10.1% ($6,422) of their income on health insurance premiums and deductibles in 2015. There were differences among states, sometimes significant.

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Mississippi, for instance, has the lowest median income and among the highest health insurance contribution levels, with families spending an average 14.7% of their income on health insurance costs.

Families in Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas pay an average of 12%. The lowest health insurance costs as a share of income were found in the District of Columbia (6.8%) and Massachusetts (7.3%).

Stagnating incomes make even modest premium increases more damaging to families, the study's lead author, Sara Collins, said in a statement announcing the report. Collins is vice president for healthcare coverage and access at The Commonwealth Fund.

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