The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released interesting new data on increases in premiums and employee contributions for employer-sponsored health insurance coverage (ESI) from 2001 to 2009.

Types of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage:

There are three types of employer-sponsored health insurance offered by employers in the U.S.:

1.  Single Coverage for the employee only.

2.  Employee-Plus-One Coverage for the employee and only one family member (a spouse or dependent child).

3.  Family Coverage for the employee and one or more additional family members (typically spouse and all dependent children).

Employers vary in the health coverage offered.  For example, not all employers offer all three types of coverage.

Health Insurance Premium Increases Compared to Increases in Employee Share of Health Premiums:

Here is a rundown on the changes in total health insurance premiums (total paid by employer and employee) and employee share of health premiums (employee contributions) from 2001 to 2009:

  • Premiums for Single Coverage increased 61.6% from $2,889 in 2001 to $4,669 in 2009.  The employee share of Single Coverage health premiums increased 92.2% from $498 in 2001 to $957 in 2009.
  • Premiums for Employee-Plus-One Coverage increased from $5,463 in 2001 to $9,053 in 2009 – a 65.7% increase over the eight years.  However, the employee share of health premiums for Employee-Plus-One jumped 120.8% from $1,070 to $2,363.
  • Premiums for Family Coverage increased 73.5%, from $7,509 in 2001 to $13,027 in 2009.  The employee share of Family Coverage premiums increased 99.5%, from $1,741 in 2001 to $3,474 to 2009.

Not surprisingly, both total health insurance premiums and the average employee contributions for all three coverage types increased faster than overall consumer prices.  For comparison, from 2001 to 2009, the annual Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 21.1%.

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey:

The data are from AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).  The MEPS Insurance Component, administered for AHRQ by the Census Bureau, fields questionnaires to private and public employers to collect data on the number and types of commericial health insurance plans offered, benefits associated with these health plans, premiums, contributions by employers and employees, eligibility requirements, and employer characteristics.