health care costs

Oregon workers with families pay some of the highest premiums for employer-provided health insurance in the nation, according to a new national report on health insurance costs.

Oregon workers saw an average of $5,913 taken from their paychecks in 2018 to pay for family health insurance, the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found after analyzing results from a federal survey of 40,000 businesses.

Oregon ranked 10th worst in the nation.

Nationwide, Washington had the lowest average worker contributions to family health insurance at $3,862 in 2018.

California scored in the middle of the pack with contributions of $5,376.

Single people fared better in Oregon.

The state had the third-lowest average worker contributions for individual insurance at $1,061 in 2018.

Washington had the second-lowest contributions at $955, while California was eighth-lowest at $1,202.

Whether workers are buying individual or family insurance, the report found health insurance costs are rising faster than wages — and taking a bigger bite out of paychecks.

Along with workers, businesses are also burdened by the rising cost of health insurance.

In 2008, Oregon workers and businesses together paid $4,384 per year for one worker’s health insurance.

That number grew to $6,441 in 2018.

Nationally, the price of one worker’s health insurance increased from $4,386 in 2008 to $6,715 in 2018.

An average family health insurance policy cost workers and businesses $12,585 in Oregon in 2008, but the cost jumped to $18,977 in 2018.

The U.S. average for family health insurance surged from $12,298 in 2008 to $19,565 in 2018.

Workers are not only paying more for insurance, they face higher deductibles — the amount of money they must pay out-of-pocket before coverage kicks in, the report said.

The average deductible for a middle-income family earning $64,000 per year increased from 2.7% of income in 2008 to 4.7% of income in 2018.

“Over the last decade, employer health insurance premiums and deductibles have grown faster than workers’ wages. This is concerning, because it may put both coverage and health care out of reach for millions of people,” said Sara Collins, lead author of the study and Commonwealth Fund vice president for health care coverage, access and tracking.

Studies show people are more likely to skip needed medical care when they face high deductibles.

In 2008, employee premium contributions plus deductibles cost more than 10% of a middle-income household’s earnings in seven states, The Commonwealth Fund report found.

Those seven states were clustered across the southern portion of the United States from Arizona to Florida.

In 2008, 42 states saw middle-income households paying more than 10% of their income for health insurance.

Middle-income households generally earn too much to qualify for government subsidized health insurance, such as the Oregon Health Plan, but are being squeezed by insurance costs.

The rising costs of employer-provided health insurance impact almost half of the United States population, according to The Commonwealth Fund.

The insurance cost increases reflect the rising cost of health care in America, the report said.

“The majority of people under age 65 in the U.S., 164 million, get their health insurance through an employer, and that insurance is less and less affordable for many of them,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund. “Ensuring that everyone can afford health insurance and health care will require policy fixes and system-wide efforts to get to the heart of the health care cost problem — the exorbitant prices we often pay for health care in the United States.”

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