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Employer Health Benefits in California

Posted Dec 18 2010 2:08pm

California is in the midst of a fiscal crisis.  The New York Times reports that the state now faces a $28.1 billion shortfall in revenue over the next 18 months .  For California workers, things are also bleak.   Unemployment has reached 12% and the cost of health insurance premiums increased by 8.1% .

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) provides additional information on sorry state of health insurance in California in their 2010 Employer Health Benefits Survey .  Some highlights from the survey include the following.

  • Since 2002, premiums have increased 134.4 percent, more than five times the 25.4 percent rise in California’s overall inflation rate.
  • The proportion of employers offering coverage is similar to last year. However, firms that went out of business are not captured in this survey. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California lost nearly 210,000 jobs from July 2009 to July 2010.
  • Single-coverage premiums in California were $5,463 annually, significantly more than the national average of $5,049. Premiums for family coverage were $14,396.
  • California workers contributed $725 annually for single coverage in 2010, and $3,632 for family coverage. The contribution for single coverage is less than for workers nationally ($899), but increased from 12 percent of the premium in 2009 to 15 percent this year.
  • Enrollment in plans with a deductible of $1,000 or more for single coverage has increased significantly for California workers in small firms, now at 27 percent, up from 7 percent in 2006.
  • Twenty-eight percent of California firms either reduced benefits or increased cost sharing for employees as a result of the economic downturn in 2010, up considerably from the 15 percent who did so in 2009.
  • Cost sharing may continue to increase for California workers. Just under half of large firms (200 or more workers) are “very” or “somewhat” likely to increase the amount workers pay for coinsurance or copayments in the next year.  Sixty-eight percent are “very” or “somewhat” likely to raise the amount workers pay toward premiums.
  • Four percent of California firms indicated they are “very likely” to drop coverage entirely in the next year. in 2008, only 1 percent of firms said this.

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