STATISTICAL BRIEF #398:
Premiums and Employee Contributions for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Private versus Public Sector, 2011


January 2013
Karen E. Davis, MA

Highlights

  • In 2011, the average public (State/local government) sector premiums were $6,157 for single coverage, $11,373 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $15,878 for family coverage, with wide variations across geographic areas.
  • Within both the public and private sectors, the highest average health insurance premiums in 2011 for both single and family coverage were for public sector employees in the New England division ($7,386 and $18,481, respectively).
  • Within both the public and private sectors, the lowest average health insurance premiums in 2011 for single coverage ($4,877) were for private sector employees in the East South Central division and for family coverage ($13,673) for public sector employees in the West South Central division.

Introduction

Employer-sponsored health insurance for current workers is one of the primary sources of health insurance coverage in the United States. According to data from the Insurance Component of the 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-IC), approximately 111.6 million of the 127.7 million civilian employees worked where the employer offered health insurance. U.S. civilian employees include those employed in the private sector and in the public sector (State and local, but not federal employees). Of those employees who worked where health insurance was offered, approximately 33.3 million were enrolled in single coverage, 12.7 million were enrolled in employee-plus-one coverage, and 21.6 million were enrolled in family coverage (data not shown).

This Statistical Brief presents estimates, using 2011 MEPS-IC data, of average premiums and employee contributions for single, employee-plus-one, and family coverage. Estimates are for public and private sector employees who worked for entities that offered health insurance, and for employees who enrolled in offered health insurance plans. Estimates by census geographic division are also presented for average premiums and employee contributions for single and family coverage for enrollees in both the public and private sectors. Only those estimates that had a statistically significant difference from the national average at the 0.05 percent significance level are noted in the text.

Findings

Premiums in 2011 (figure 1)
Among the 127.7 million civilian employees who worked for private or public sector employers in 2011, 87.4 percent worked where the employer offered health insurance (estimate not shown in figures). The average public sector premiums in 2011 were $6,157 for single coverage, $11,373 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $15,878 for family coverage (figure 1). The average private sector premiums in 2011 were $5,222 for single coverage, $10,329 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $15,022 for family coverage.

Employee contributions in 2011 (figure 2)
Public sector employees contributed an average of $631 for single coverage, $2,262 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $2,807 for family coverage to their health insurance premiums in 2011 (figure 2).

Private sector employees contributed an average of $1,090 for single coverage, $2,736 for employee-plus-one coverage, and $3,962 for family coverage to their health insurance premiums in 2011.

Single and family coverage variations by census geographic division in 2011 (figures 3–6)
In 2011, average annual premiums and employee contributions varied substantially across both public and private sector employers and by geographic divisions as summarized below:
  • Average annual health insurance premiums per enrolled civilian employee with single coverage ranged from $4,877 for private sector employees in East South Central to $7,386 for public sector employees in New England in 2011 (figure 3).
  • Average employee contributions per enrolled civilian employee with single coverage ranged from $354 for public sector employees in West North Central to $1,328 for private sector employees in New England in 2011 (figure 4).
  • Average annual health insurance premiums per enrolled civilian employee with family coverage ranged from $13,673 for public sector employees in West South Central to $18,481 for public sector employees in New England in 2011 (figure 5).
  • Average employee contributions per enrolled civilian employee with family coverage ranged from $1,390 for public sector employees in Middle Atlantic to $4,786 for public sector employees in West South Central in 2011 (figure 6).

Data Source

This Statistical Brief summarizes data from the 2011 MEPS-IC. The data are available on the MEPS Web site at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/survey_comp/Insurance.jsp or have been produced using special computation runs on the confidential MEPS-IC data available at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Definitions

States were grouped into nine census divisions as follows:
  • New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Middle Atlantic: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
  • East North Central: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
  • West North Central: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • South Atlantic: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
  • East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee
  • West South Central: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
  • Pacific: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington
Civilian
Civilian employees include those employed in the private sector and in the public (State/local government) sector. Federal government employees, postal workers, military, and unincorporated self-employed individuals with no employees are not included.

Employee-plus-one coverage
Health insurance that covers the employee and one other family member at a lower premium level than family coverage. For the MEPS-IC survey, if premiums are different for employee-plus-spouse and employee-plus-child coverage, the costs for employee-plus-child coverage are collected.

Family coverage
Health insurance that covers the employee and one or more members of his/her immediate family (spouse and/or children as defined by the plan). For the MEPS-IC survey, "family coverage" is any coverage other than single and employee-plus-one. Some plans offer more than one rate for family coverage, depending on family size and composition. If more than one rate is offered, survey respondents are asked to report costs for a family of four.

Premium
Agreed upon fees paid for coverage of medical benefits for a defined benefit period. Premiums can be paid by employers, unions, employees, or split between the insured individual and the plan sponsor.

Single coverage
Health insurance that covers the employee only. This is also known as employee-only coverage.

About MEPS-IC

The MEPS-IC is a survey of business establishments and governments that collects information on employer-sponsored health insurance, such as whether insurance is offered, enrollments, types of plans, and premiums. The survey is conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau under the sponsorship of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). A total sample of approximately 42,000 private-sector establishments was selected for the 2011 survey; with 6.4 percent of the sample determined to be out-of-scope during the data collection process. The response rate for the private sector was 81.7 percent of the remaining in-scope sample units. For State and local governments, a sample of approximately 3,100 governmental units was selected with a response rate of 94.2 percent.

For more information on this survey, see MEPS Methodology Reports 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, and 18 and the MEPS-IC Technical Notes and Survey Documentation, which are available on the MEPS Web site (http://www.meps.ahrq.gov).

Suggested Citation

Davis, K. Premiums and Employee Contributions for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Private versus Public Sector, 2011. Statistical Brief #398. January 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st398/stat398.shtml

* * *
AHRQ welcomes questions and comments from readers of this publication who are interested in obtaining more information about access, cost, use, financing, and quality of health care in the United States. We also invite you to tell us how you are using this Statistical Brief and other MEPS data and tools and to share suggestions on how MEPS products might be enhanced to further meet your needs. Please e-mail us at MEPSProjectDirector@ahrq.hhs.gov or send a letter to the address below:

Steve B. Cohen, PhD, Director
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 1. Average premium per enrolled employee: Private versus public sector, by type of coverage, 2011
PrivatePublic
Single$5,222$6,157
Employee-plus-one$10,329$11,373
Family$15,022$15,878
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 2. Average total employee contribution per enrolled employee: Private versus public sector, by type of coverage, 2011
PrivatePublic
Single$1,090$631
Employee-plus-one$2,736$2,262
Family$3,962$2,807
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 3. Average premium per enrolled employee for single coverage: Private and public* sectors, by census division, 2011
Private
(Average Dollars)
Public
(Average Dollars)
New England5,7387,386
Middle Atlantic5,5396,550
East North Central5,2046,835
West North Central5,1065,946
South Atlantic5,2016,047
East South Central4,8775,594
West South Central5,0275,101
Mountain4,9255,990
Pacific5,2257,082
*Public sector excludes federal government employees
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 4. Average employee contribution per enrolled employee for single coverage: Private and public* sectors, by census division, 2011
Private
(Average Dollars)
Public
(Average Dollars)
New England1,3281,294
Middle Atlantic1,130485
East North Central1,130753
West North Central1,088354
South Atlantic1,145640
East South Central1,067587
West South Central1,027601
Mountain1,057527
Pacific934745
*Public sector excludes federal government employees
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 5. Average premium per enrolled employee for family coverage: Private and public* sectors, by census division, 2011
Private
(Average Dollars)
Public
(Average Dollars)
New England16,59918,481
Middle Atlantic15,84416,569
East North Central14,79917,116
West North Central14,38315,315
South Atlantic14,76915,253
East South Central13,72013,975
West South Central14,44513,673
Mountain14,39115,037
Pacific15,50615,238
*Public sector excludes federal government employees
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

Figure data for accessible table follows the image
Figure 6. Average employee contribution per enrolled employee for family coverage: Private and public* sectors, by census division, 2011
Private
(Average Dollars)
Public
(Average Dollars)
New England4,1703,558
Middle Atlantic3,7001,390
East North Central3,4712,327
West North Central3,9253,028
South Atlantic4,4473,918
East South Central3,8203,385
West South Central4,2854,786
Mountain4,3543,724
Pacific3,8672,416
*Public sector excludes federal government employees
Source: Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, AHRQ, Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2011

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