2016 Edition — California Employer Health Benefits

Workers pay the price

Heidi Whitmore, NORC at the University of Chicago
Jon Gabel, NORC at the University of Chicago


Since 1999, the percentage of employers offering coverage has declined in California, while coverage rates have remained stable. Only 57% of firms reported providing health insurance to employees in 2015, down from 73% in 1999. Twenty-seven percent of California firms reported that they reduced benefits or increased cost sharing, and 41% of firms reported that they were very or somewhat likely to increase employees’ premium contribution in the next year. This trend will have major implications for household budgets.

California Employer Health Benefits: Workers Pay the Price presents data compiled from the 2015 California Health Benefits Survey.

Other key findings include:

  • The percentage of firms with many low-wage workers (those earning $23,000 or less) offering health coverage to employees more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, from 18% to 42%.
  • Health insurance premiums for family coverage grew by 4.5%, a slower growth rate than recent years. Family coverage premiums have seen a cumulative 216% increase since 2002, compared to a 37% increase in overall prices.
  • The average monthly health insurance premium, including the employer contribution, was $573 for single coverage and $1,554 for family coverage in California, and was significantly higher than the national average.
  • Four in 10 workers in small firms faced an annual deductible of at least $1,000 for single coverage, compared to 1 in 10 workers in larger firms.

The full report and a data file are available for download below. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of California Employer Health Benefits.