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From Health Reform WK-EDGE, February 1, 2019

Lower-wage workers pay more for health benefits than higher-wage workers

By Lauren Bikoff, MLS

Lower-wage workers make larger premium contributions for health insurance than higher-wage workers, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.

In medical care plans that required employee contributions, lower-wage workers paid higher contributions for premiums than did higher-wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In March 2018, private industry workers earning an average wage in the lowest 10 percent paid an average of $151.78 per month for medical care plans for single coverage. That was $25 more than the average monthly contributions of private industry workers with an average wage in the highest 10 percent ($126.82).

Private industry employers in March 2018 paid less for medical care plan premiums for lower-wage workers than for workers with higher wages. Among plans that required employee contributions, employers paid an average of $398.51 per month for single coverage medical benefit premiums for workers with an average wage in the lowest 10 percent in March 2018, the BLS found. For the highest 10 percent of wage earners, employers paid an average of $440.48 in monthly premiums for single coverage medical care benefits.

As with single coverage medical care plans, lower-wage workers paid higher contributions for family medical care plans than did higher-wage workers. Private industry employers also paid less for premiums for lower-wage than for higher-wage workers who participated in family coverage medical care plans that require employee contributions.

According to the BLS, 86 percent of private industry workers with employer-provided medical care benefits were in plans that required employees to contribute toward the premiums for single coverage. For family coverage, 93 percent of workers with medical care benefits were in plans that required employee contributions.

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