2019 Edition — California Employer Health Benefits

Quick reference guide

Heidi Whitmore, NORC at the University of Chicago


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In 2018, 60% of California employers offered health insurance to their employees. Whether a firm offered health insurance varied by firm characteristics, such as company size, worker wages, part-time status, and unionization status.

California workers were more likely to enroll in HMO plans than in other plan types; however, since 2010 the percentage of workers enrolled in a high-deductible health plan with savings option (HDHP/SO) has more than doubled, to one in six workers. Compared to other plan types, HDHP/SOs typically expose workers to higher out-of-pocket costs.

Overall, the average annual premium was $8,712 for single and $20,843 for family coverage. Workers’ share of the premium averaged 14% for single and 27% for family. Premium costs varied by type of plan. High-deductible plans with savings option had the lowest average premium for single coverage, while HMO plan premiums were the lowest for family coverage. PPO premiums were the highest for single and family coverage.

In addition to the cost of premiums, many workers also are faced with deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. In 2018, the average annual deductible was $1,402 for single and $2,706 for family coverage. The annual deductible for HDHP/SO was significantly higher, at $2,457 and $4,834, respectively.

Out-of-pocket limits faced by employees vary greatly across plans. While nearly all covered workers had an out-of-pocket limit, for those with single coverage the limit was $3,000 or more for 40% of workers, while 4% of workers had no limit.


The California Employer Health Benefits Survey is a joint product of CHCF and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The survey was designed and analyzed by researchers at NORC and administered by National Research.

The full report, all the charts found in the 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.