How much have health costs gone up?

What has been the real (inflation adjusted) increase over the last two decades in employer-paid healthcare insurance premiums for employees so insured in the USA?


Dear Curious,

For the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, the annual average health insurance premiums per employee increased by 80%.  It went from $9,068 to $16,351.  (See Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey, 2013 Summary of Findings for details.)  Those 10 years included a few where health insurance increases were slower than “normal”.

Looking at the broader picture of everyone’s health costs, not just employer’s, gives a slightly different view. Twenty years would reach back to the mid 1990s, when we flirted with Hillary Clinton’s health care strategies and the word “crisis” was already getting old to describe health care costs. According to the World Bank, the United States spent $3,788 per person on health care in 1995 and spent $8,895 per person in 2012. (These figures are much lower than the employer cost, because it includes all people – even those who have no insurance.) So in those 17 years, costs rose 57 percent.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.