Cost of Employer Health Insurance Is a Growing Burden

  • Recent national surveys show health care costs are a top concern in U.S. households
  •  In 2017, more than half (56%) of people under age 65 — about 152 million people — had insurance through an employer.
  • Average premiums for employer health plans rose sharply in 2017.
  • The average annual deductible for single-person policies rose to $1,808 in 2017.
  • ombined, average employee premium contributions and potential out-of-pocket spending to meet deductibles across single and family policies rose to $7,240 in 2017 and was $8,000 or more in eight states.

 Insurance companies are routinely criticized for high prices. Premiums continue to rise faster than inflation. And while Americans struggle to find affordable plans, leading insurance company executives report staggeringly high annual incomes. Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, David Cordani, CEO of Cigna, has taken home more than $140 million of compensation. Yet he feels poor compared to Stephen Hemsley, the CEO of UnitedHealthGroup, who has made almost $300 million.

 Anthem, Cigna, CVS Health, Humana and UnitedHealth Group cumulatively expect to collect almost $787 billion in 2019, compared with $783 billion of projected revenue for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.

All this at a time when the average worker isn’t seeing Trump’s “economic miracle.

Real wages only grew 1.9 percent in 2018 and many Americans aren’t experiencing an “economic miracle” under Trump. Nearly half — 48 percent — of Americans say they believe economic conditions are worsening. That’s up from 45 percent in December and 36 percent in November, according to a January Gallup poll.

It’s true that wages are rising faster than they have in a decade, but that’s only because the US economy collapsed 10 years ago. Comparing current wage growth to recession-era wage growth sets a pretty low standard.

The Economic Policy Institute recently crunched compensation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing that the much-touted bonuses did little to boost workers’ paychecks. In the past 12 months, cash bonuses only gave workers an extra 2 cents in average hourly compensation, adjusted for inflation.

Less pay = frustration = anger

The media is all too aware of consumer anger over lower wages on rising healthcare costs. To date, the narrative has been around high drug prices instead of our whole healthcare system. Journalists have not done a good job of explaining why our healthcare costs are so high and explaining who is really to blame. Instead, headlines continually blame pharma who is not blameless but not one journalist has pointed out that even if all prescription drugs were free our healthcare costs would still be a serious problem.

Senators Sanders and Warren need to point out that our WHOLE healthcare system is broken and needs fixing. Continuing to point the finger at pharma is NOT the answer.