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Family Health Insurance Premiums Have Risen 79 Percent and 89 Percent, Respectively, for Workers and Employers Since 1996

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: August 23, 2005

American workers with employer-provided health insurance for themselves and their families paid 79 percent more, on average, for that coverage in 2003 than they did in 1996, according to the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • The average employee contributed $2,283 for family coverage in 2003, compared to only $1,275 in 1996. Even when adjusted for inflation, this was a 51.2 percent increase over the 7-year period.
  • Employers have borne an even greater share of the increasing premiums. The average employer's contribution for a private-sector employee taking family coverage increased by 89.3 percent (59.9 percent when adjusted for inflation)—from $3,679 in 1996 to $6,966 in 2003.
  • According to experts with AHRQ's annual Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), health insurance premiums have increased every year since the start of the survey in 1996 and the trends are similar for single and employee-plus-one coverage and for public-sector employers and their employees as well.

The recently released 2003 data came from Employer-Sponsored Single, Employee-Plus-One, and Family Health Insurance Coverage: Selection and Cost, 2003 on the MEPS Web site at [PDF Help] and there is much greater detail available on the MEPS Website at


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