News Story

Public Employees Pay Least Toward Their Health Insurance

Workers are paying more for their health care and state and local government employees are paying less than the private sector, according to a new national survey.

Workers are paying nearly $4,000 this year for family health care coverage, an increase of 14 percent or $482 from last year, according to the annual survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

State and local government employees paid 9 percent of their cost for single coverage and 25 percent for family plans, both lowest among the nine employee sector categories surveyed. The highest of the others was the retail sector where employees paid 25 percent of their costs for single coverage and 34 percent for the family plan.

The average for all industries was 19 percent for single coverage and 30 percent for the family plan.

"With the economy struggling, businesses have been shifting more of the costs of health insurance to workers through premiums, deductibles and other cost-sharing," Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman said in a press release. "This may be helping to stem the rapid rise in premiums that we saw in the early 2000s, but it also means employer coverage is less comprehensive.  From a consumer perspective, the cost of health insurance just keeps going up faster than wages."

Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said public sector workers share less of the burden because government is motivated by politics and dominated by the power of public employee unions.

"So not surprisingly, it's also less responsive to economic changes that have swept through the rest of the economy," McHugh wrote in an e-mail. "Some on the Left once hoped that government employees would become a 'vanguard of labor,' setting benefit standards that would become the norm. Instead, they've become a privileged class, enjoying unsustainable rewards the rest of us can only imagine."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.