In 2005 that is, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) latest research into employer-sponsored health care titled Employer Health Insurance Costs and Worker Compensation.

KFF analyzed six years’ worth of employers’ health insurance cost data and found their premiums increased 78% in the six years as wages grew only 19%.

It’s useful to dive into these data and learn that employers with higher-wage employees spend more per hour on health insurance than those in lower-wage occupations. However, although technical, executive/managerial, and professional occupations had some of the highest health costs per hour, KFF found that as a share of payroll, their costs were relatively low — reflecting the higher wages in these jobs.

Thus, health insurance costs can vary significantly by industry. KFF’s data will be useful for policymakers when considering the future role of employers in paying the costs of insurance and whether a formula for such support can be equitably distributed across industries.

Furthermore, the $2.59 average in 2005 was in the midst of a range from a low of $1.35 to a high of $3.37. Health care costs as a percentage of payroll ranged from a low of 6.6% of payroll to a high of 16.5%.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
KFF notes that $2.59, the hourly health cost, is much higher than estimates being discussed in various state health reform plans across the country. This research lays some Get-Real ground for informing ongoing health reform cost projections.