Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 28, 2016

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust have released the results of their 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, which gives an idea of how much the health insurance coverage provided by U.S. employers costs.

Those costs are divided between employers and their workers. In the case of health insurance premiums, the cost is shared between U.S. employers and workers. For 2016, U.S. employers will pick up an average of 82% ($5,309) of the full cost of the premiums ($6,438) for workers who select single coverage and an average of 71% ($12,865) of the full cost of health insurance ($18,142) for workers who select family coverage.

U.S. employees however are fully responsible for paying the deductible portion of their health insurance coverage, which is the actual cost of the health care they might actually consume before they would realize the full benefits of having health insurance coverage. For 2016, the average deductible for any type of health insurance is $1,478 for single coverage and we estimate an average deductible of $2,966 applies for family coverage.

Combined together, these costs represent the amount of money that the average American employee can expect to pay before their health insurer would begin paying the majority of costs for the actual health care they consume. The following chart indicates the average annual costs for employers and employees for health insurance premiums and deductibles in 2016.

2016 Average Costs of Health Insurance Premiums and Deductibles for Employed Americans

Most of these values are directly provided in the 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, however we've estimated the average cost of the deductibles for employees selecting family health insurance coverage by calculating the weighted average deductible that applies for each major category of health insurance coverage according to the percentage enrollment for each plan type in 2016, whether conventional, Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), Point of Service (POS) or High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

For 2016, U.S. workers with single health insurance coverage will pay 33% of the combined total cost of health insurance premiums and deductibles before reaching the threshold where the health insurer is responsible for paying the majority of their health care expenses. U.S. workers with family health coverage can expect to pay up to 39% of the combined total cost of health insurance premiums and deductibles before they reach that threshold.

U.S. workers pay no income taxes on the amount of money their employers contribute to paying their health insurance premiums on their behalf. That exemption has existed since World War 2, when the U.S. government passed legislation to allow U.S. firms to provide these alternative compensation benefits in order to attract and retain skilled employees at a time when the wage and price controls of that era prevented them from being able to directly pay them more.

Data Source

Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey. Exhibits 5.1, 6.3, 6.4, 7.7 and 7.20. 14 September 2016.

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