Blog Post

Insight: Finally, Some Good News on Health Care Costs

By: Laura Summers

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

When you hear the term “health care costs,” it is typically never associated with good news. In an earlier blog post, I noted that surprise medical bills, the rising cost of prescription drugs, and a lack of price transparency in the health care market have long frustrated the public and have policymakers looking for solutions. And while our collective pocketbooks have all experienced the squeeze of rising health care costs, a recent report from The Commonwealth Fund provides some good news for Utahns with employer-sponsored insurance.

Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey–Insurance Component (MEPS–IC),[1] the Commonwealth Fund found that employer premiums (including contributions from employers and employees) rose by 4.9% annually for single plans and 5.1% annually for family plans between 2016 and 2018. This increase follows a decline in average annual premium cost growth from 2008‒2016.

So what is the good news about rising premiums and deductibles? Well for one, the data show that employees in Utah have the sixth lowest premium contribution in the nation for both single and family health insurance plans ($1,183 and $4,594, respectively). Our ranking on deductibles is even better. We ranked third lowest in terms of average deductibles for single-person health plans ($1,451).