Medical care premiums in the United States, March 2020 (PDF)
The National Compensation Survey (NCS) program publishes comprehensive estimates on the incidence (the percentage of workers with access to and participation in employer provided benefit plans) and provisions of employee benefit plans. Health care is typically one of the most expensive benefits for employers to provide, constituting 8.2 percent of total compensation for civilian workers in March 2020.1 The average cost for health care per state and local government employee hour worked was $6.00 and $2.64 for private industry workers.
The NCS program publishes several components of health care benefits, including medical care premiums.
Estimates for medical plan premiums are not based on actual decisions regarding medical coverage made by employees; instead they are based on the assumption that all employees in the occupation can opt for available coverage.
March 2020 civilian worker single coverage estimates show that:
In order to show the distribution of flat dollar medical care premiums, estimates are available by the following percentiles: 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th. The benefits publication presents the monthly premium amount, but for this fact sheet the amounts were multiplied by 12 to show annual premium amounts. The median (50th percentile) is where half of workers have premiums less than and half of workers have premiums more than the stated premium amount. The median annual premium for civilian workers was $1,440.72 for single coverage medical care benefits and $5,700.60 for family coverage. (See chart 1 and table 15 of the annual bulletin.)
State and local government workers in the lowest 25 percent wage category had a median annual premium amount of $1,068.00 for single coverage. For workers at the highest 25 percent wage category, the contribution at the 90th percentile was $3,676.68. (See chart 2 and table 15 of the annual bulletin.)
Private industry workers in the lowest 25 percent wage category had a median annual premium amount of $1,526.76 for single coverage. (See chart 3 and table 15 of the annual bulletin.)
The share of premiums paid by state and local government workers (regardless of contribution requirement) in the lowest 25 percent wage category was 13 percent and 15 percent for those in the highest 25 percent wage category for single coverage plans. In private industry, workers in the lowest 25 percent wage category paid 24 percent of premiums and those in the highest 25 percent wage category paid 20 percent for single coverage plans. (See chart 4 and table 10 of the annual bulletin.)
The glossary of employee benefit terms provides definitions for plans, provisions, coverage, and related terms. The National Compensation Measures Handbook of Methods provides information on the survey design, calculations, weighting, and imputation methods used to produce compensation estimates. The calculation section includes information on the measures of reliability available for each estimate.
Estimates on the cost, coverage, and provisions of employer–sponsored benefit plans from 2010 to 2020 are available through the Excel dataset, and public database. Historical data are available on the publications page. Benefit estimates are not a time series and users are advised to consider changes in survey design, survey scope, estimation methods, weighting, and sample rotation when analyzing the data.
 Flat–dollar–amount contribution requirements are a fixed dollar amount. Variable–dollar–amount requirements may vary by dollar amount depending on other factors — for example, the amount may vary by employee’s earnings or length of service.
Last Modified Date: October 5, 2020