Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance More Widely Available in Western States
Employees in the Western U.S. are more likely to be offered employer-sponsored health insurance but less likely to be offered retiree health care benefits than workers nationwide, according to a report released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The bureau's National Compensation Survey found that 73% of employees in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Alaska had access to employer-sponsored health insurance, compared with 70% of employees nationwide.
However, the rate of retirement benefits in the West was the lowest of the survey's nine regions and below the national average. Only 55% of employees in the West were offered access to health benefits after they retire, compared with 60% of employees nationwide.
The survey was conducted from December 2003 to January 2005 and included data from 4,560 private employers covering 103 million people.
Monthly employee contributions to premiums were generally lower in the West than in other parts of the country, the survey found.
The average monthly employee contribution for individual coverage in the western region was $62.09, the lowest of the nine regions. Nationwide, employers paid 82% of employees' premiums for individual coverage on average and 71% of premiums for family coverage during the survey period.
In the West, 33% of employers paid the entire health insurance premium for individuals. For family coverage in the West, employees contributed $262.59 monthly on average, compared with $273.03 nationwide.
Laurence Baker, associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said employers in states with older populations and strong unions are more likely to offer retirement benefits. He added, "California may also have a work force that is more worried about now than (the future)" (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/25).
The complete survey is available online.