UMass Medical School survey of Vermont employers finds health insurance benefits differ considerably

February 11, 2016

A UMass Medical School survey of Vermont employers finds health insurance benefits vary considerably, with one-fourth of the Vermont employers who offer health insurance to their employees covering 100 percent of employees’ health insurance premiums and a third contributing less than 70 percent.

The 2015 Vermont Health Benefits Survey collected responses from 2,688 firms, and analyzed 2,582 responses. Half of the firms responding offer health insurance to their employees, but the rates, eligibility requirements, plans, and employees’ and employers’ costs vary significantly.

The Center for Health Law and Economics and the Office of Survey Research, both within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, conducted the survey commissioned by the Vermont Agency on Administration. Bittie Behl-Chadha, PhD, director, Carla Hillerns, MPA, MUP, project manager, Susan Fish, operations manager, and Pei-Pei Lei, MA, data analyst, all of the Office of Survey Research, conducted the survey, and Katharine London, MS, principal, Tamara Ohler, PhD, policy analyst, Abiola Animashaun, MPH, policy analyst, all of the Center for Health Law and Economics; analyzed and summarized the results.

The firms surveyed ranged from three to more than 250 employees. They represent about 12 percent of all firms in Vermont and 24 percent of those with three or more employees.

All of the largest firms offer health insurance to their employees, but only 38 percent of those with three to nine employees do so. Employers’ premium costs are highest for family coverage and lowest for single coverage. Employers offer health insurance coverage for single employees more often than they offer coverage to other family sizes, and more employees are enrolled in single coverage than other types.

Employers also differed in how much they contributed toward health insurance premiums for employees. The median employee contribution is $327 a month for family coverage and $84 a month for single coverage. Employees working for companies that pay 100 percent of the premium, however, do not pay a premium, while 10 percent of employees with single coverage pay $285 or more a month and 10 percent of employees with family coverage pay $948 or more a month.

Vermont policy makers could use the survey results to monitor health benefits offered in the state and to evaluate the effects of any proposed changes to Vermont’s health care system.