Idaho Health Care Increases

BOISE - Idahoans saw the prices for employer-sponsored health insurance grow nearly six times faster than its median income between 2008 and 2018, according to a new national report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Idaho’s median income grew by an average of 1.2 percent per year between 2008 and 2018, while the average premium contribution and deductible for employer-sponsored health care plans grew by an average of 7 percent annually during the same time.

The report, authored by Sara R. Collins, David C. Radley and Jesse C. Baumgartner of The Commonwealth Fund, analyzes state-by-state data provided by over 40,000 employers. Roughly half of Americans, or 164 million people, are covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. The report does not include information from those over 65, who are eligible for the public health care service Medicare.

“Over the last decade, premiums and deductibles have taken up a larger share of families’ incomes across the country,” said David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, during a Wednesday teleconference. “Employer health care coverage is leaving millions of families exposed to high and potentially unaffordable costs.”

Idaho had one of the 10 lowest rates of employee contribution to its single-person coverage plans last year. The average worker in Idaho contributed $1,199 toward their premium plan, roughly the same as workers in California and Utah and below the national average of $1,427.

At the same time, the average deductible for a single-person coverage plan in Idaho was $1,894 and the overall deductible including family plans was $2,958. Those were near the nationwide averages for both deductible plans at $1,846 and $2,992, respectively.

Report co-author Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., said the growth of deductibles means those insured with a high deductible face difficulties in accessing care.

“These do act as a financial barrier to care,” she said. The report states people with high deductibles delay going to the doctor when sick or try to cut costs in other ways, like not filling prescriptions.