California Employer Health Benefits Survey: Workers Feel the Pinch

NORC at the University of Chicago

California workers are less likely to be offered employer-based coverage than in recent years, according to this survey, and workers who are covered pay more in premiums and cost sharing.

January 2014

Employer-based coverage is the leading source of health insurance in California as well as nationally. This edition of the annual California Employer Health Benefits Survey provides an overview of the landscape in the lead-up to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014.

Overall, the findings suggest that, compared with recent years, California workers are less likely to be offered employer-based coverage, and those who are covered pay more in premiums and cost sharing. Workers may continue to see costs rise next year: Over 40% of surveyed firms said they are likely to increase what workers pay for their premiums in the coming year, and 34% plan to increase employees' deductibles. Nevertheless, because this survey was conducted during the immediate lead-up to ACA implementation, the 2013 numbers may not signal important trends.

See the complete report in the interactive viewing pane below or download the PDF at the bottom of the page.

Key findings include:

  • The proportion of California employers offering coverage has declined significantly over the last decade, from 69% in 2000 to 61% in 2013.
  • Coverage is offered to employees at a higher rate at larger firms, firms with higher wages, and firms with some union workers.
  • Since 2002, premiums in California rose by 185%, more than five times the state's overall inflation rate.
  • Average monthly premiums for single coverage in California were $572 in 2013, compared to $490 nationally. For family coverage, monthly premiums were $1,442 in California and $1,363 nationally.
  • California workers paid an average of 22% of the total premium for single coverage and 33% for family coverage in 2013, significantly higher shares than in the previous year. 
  • California's HMO premiums have been higher than the national average since 2010 — a change from the previous decade.
  • Nearly one-third of covered workers in small firms had a deductible of $1,000 or more for single coverage in 2013, up from just 7% in 2006. In large firms, only 9% had a deductible of $1,000 or more.
  • One in four California firms reported that they reduced benefits or increased cost sharing in the last year.

The complete Almanac report is available as a Document Download.

Almanac Updates

The CHCF Almanac regularly publishes data and analysis on California's health care market.

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