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Size Does Matter in Health Insurance

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: September 28, 2006

Workers at the nation's largest private-sector firms pay health insurance deductibles that are about half as expensive as those paid by workers at the smallest companies, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

  • Employees of companies with 1,000 or more workers paid $859, on average, to meet their deductible for family plan coverage in 2004, compared with the $1,779 average paid by workers in firms with fewer than 10 employees.
  • The annual deductible for workers in companies with 10 to 99 employees averaged $1,700.
  • In companies with 100 to 999, employees paid an average deductible of $1,114.
  • About 59 percent of private sector employees were enrolled in company-sponsored health insurance plans that required deductibles to be met before benefits were paid.
  • For individual coverage, average deductibles varied from $737 per year in firms with fewer than 10 employees to $412 for businesses with 1,000 employees or more.
  • Average co-payments for office visits varied from $19.40 for enrollees in the smallest businesses to $17.42 for those with the largest companies.
  • Some health plans include co-insurance clauses requiring enrollees to pay a stated percentage of their medical expenses after meeting their deductible. The average co-insurance for a doctor visit varied from 20.6 percent for enrollees in companies with fewer than 10 workers to 18.2 percent for those with 1,000 or more employees.

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary is taken from the Agency's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the nation's most complete survey of how Americans use and pay for health care, including their health insurance coverage. AHRQ, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance America's health care system by developing and promoting evidence to improve quality, efficiency, effectiveness, and safety.

For more information, access MEPS Statistical Brief No. 142: Copays and Deductibles for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector, by Firm Size Classification: 2004, (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of September 2006.


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