Health Benefits Cost 40 Percent More for Government Workers than for Private Workers


John R. Graham
blog.independent.org
January 24, 2014

I recently criticized an advocacy piece by an employers’ group, a report that promoted harmful, government-driven, solutions to price transparency in health care. This blog post will argue that private employers are not entirely ineffective.

The media never fails to give good coverage to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey, which draws on “almost three thousand interviews with non-federal public and private firms.” The Survey reports a total premium for single coverage of $5,884 per employee, of which the worker paid $999 and the employer paid $4,885. (Economically speaking, the employee actually paid the entire cost, because the employer would otherwise have paid the balance as wages. However, our culture struggles to accept this fact, so we’ll let the figures stand as reported.)

The Kaiser Family Foundation divides its sample in different ways. It reports coverage by household size. It reports coverage by employer size. What it does not do is separate the public-sector benefits from the private-sector benefits. This is a shame, because the report is freely available and heavily reported.

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