Report: Floridians Spending Bigger Share Of Their Income On Health Premiums

Dec 7, 2018
Originally published on December 7, 2018 12:33 pm

According to a new study, workers and their families are spending a bigger share of their income on health care than in previous years – especially in Florida.

On average, Floridians along with 10 other states, last year spent more than eight percent of their incomes on their monthly health insurance premiums.

The cost of employer-sponsored insurance premiums actually decreased overall from $6,260 a year to $6,068 for single coverage, and from $17,989 to $17,189 for family coverage between 2016 and 2017, according to a new report by consumer advocacy group The Commonweath Fund.

And employees’ required contributions to their premiums also decreased a bit, from $1,568 a year for single coverage to $1,442, and from $6,297 to $5,568 for family coverage.

But Sarah Collins, the lead author on the study and Commonwealth Fund Vice President for Health Care Coverage and Access, said that’s still too much.

"People in employer plans in Florida, both single plans and family plans, pay more for their premiums than the national average,’ Collins said.

“Florida is one of the 18 states that we identified in the survey where people potentially have very high out-of-pocket costs relative to their income. And part of the other factor in the Florida story is that median income is well below the national average."

The study suggests several ways policy makers could help curb health care costs, including:

  • Fixing the so-called family coverage glitch, which has left many families ineligible for marketplace subsidies. That’s because, under the ACA, affordability and access to subsidies are based on a single plan instead of the higher-cost family plan.
  • Providing refundable tax credits to offset out-of-pocket costs.
  • Excluding more services from plan deductibles in employer plans.
  • Increasing the required minimum value of employer plans.

National highlights from the report:  

  • Workers and their families are spending a bigger share of their income on health care, especially in the South. Average employee premium contributions for single and family plans amounted to nearly 7 percent of U.S. median income in 2017, up from 5 percent in 2008. In 11 states (Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas), premium contributions were eight percent of median income or more, with a high of 10.2 percent in Louisiana. 
  • Premium and deductible costs amounted to nearly 12 percent of median income in 2017.  Added together, the total cost of premiums to workers and potential spending on deductibles for both single and family policies climbed to $7,240 a year in 2017. This combined cost ranged from a low of $4,664 in Hawaii to a high of more than $8,000 in eight states (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia). 
  • For people with incomes at the midrange of the income distribution, total spending on employer plan premiums and potential out-of-pocket costs amounted to 11.7 percent of their income in 2017. This is up from 7.8 percent a decade earlier. In two states, Mississippi and Louisiana, these combined costs rose to 15 percent or more of median income.
  • As employer premiums have risen, so have workers’ contributions. Between 2016 and 2017, employee premium contributions rose by 6.8 percent to $1,415 for single-person plans and by 5.3 percent to $5,218 for family plans.