Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Buying a new car every year would be a very impractical expense. It would also be cheaper than a year’s worth of health care for a family.

Why it matters: The cost-shifting and complexity of health insurance can hide its high cost, which crowds out families’ other needs and depresses workers’ wages.

By the numbers: Health care for a family covered by a large employer cost, on average, $22,885 last year.

  • That’s $2,000 more than the sticker price for a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle.
  • If the iconic Beetle isn’t your style, $22,885 would also be more than enough to get you a Ford Focus ($17,950), a Toyota Corolla ($18,600) or a Hyundai Sonata ($22,050).

Between the lines: Roughly $15,000 of that $22,885 comes from employers’ contribution to their workers’ premiums. That share alone is enough to buy a basic sedan.

  • Workers chip in an average of $4,706 per year premiums, and then spend an additional of $3,020 out of pocket. Combined, that’s almost 4 times more than the average family spends on gas in a year.

The Beetle is being discontinued in the U.S. after this year. But as health care costs continue to rise, they’ll be comparable to even fancier cars. They’re already inching up toward the cheapest Cadillac — a familiar car metaphor.

  • The Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax” was intended to put downward pressure on prices by taxing the most generous health plans. But it actually affects a broad range of plans, and Congress has delayed the tax until 2022. The House has voted to repeal it altogether.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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