Apr 2, 2019

Premium growth is swallowing income growth in many states

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Data: Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, United States of Care; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The financial burden of insurance premiums is growing, especially in sparsely populated states in the South, West and Northeast, according to a new analysis by the Leonard David Institute of Health Economics and United States of Care.

The big picture: Premiums are eating up an increasingly big share of workers' paychecks. And this analysis doesn't include out-of-pocket spending, which is rising even faster.

Between the lines: In 2016, the average national premium for a family plan ate up 30% of median income, including both the employer and employee share. That's up from 28% in 2010.

  • Louisiana had the highest cost burden in 2016, with 37.1% of income going toward premiums. Minnesota had the lowest, at 24.4%.
  • Nationally, premiums grew by 27.7% between 2010 and 2016, while income grew by 19.8%.
  • Most economists view the employer share of premiums as lost wages for workers.

The bottom line: All trends point to health care becoming only more expensive for workers and employers. And the more both groups are forced to pay, the more poignant a political issue it becomes.

Go deeper: Health care costs are skyrocketing, and wiping out wage increases

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