Health Insurance Costing Oklahomans Noticeably More

Dec 7, 2018

Health insurance costs took a big jump last year, and it’s hitting Oklahoma families in the pocketbook.

Employer-sponsored plan premiums are up 10 percent in the state, almost double the national increase. Commonwealth Fund Senior Scientist David Radley said between employee contributions and deductibles, the average Oklahoma family could be paying $7,800 out of pocket.

"That accounts for about 13 percent of median income in Oklahoma. That’s higher than the national rate at 12 percent, and it’s one of the highest in the country," Radley said.

More than half of Americans younger than 65 are covered by an employer-sponsored health plan. The average premium for employer-sponsored family insurance in Oklahoma last year was $18,000, up more than $7,000 from a decade ago.

While family premiums for employer-sponsored plans in Oklahoma rose 10 percent just last year, employee contributions rose 15 percent in the same period.

Radley said one thing lawmakers could do to ease that burden is expand access to insurance subsidies by tying them to the cost of family plans rather than individual ones.

"Another thing that lawmakers could do is require employer plans to cover a broader set of services that are excluded from the deductibles. That would lower the out-of-pocket burden for families," Radley said.

Radley says expanding Medicaid could also help low-income Oklahoma families struggling to afford employer-sponsored coverage.

"And it could also really help small businesses in Oklahoma, who would be able to have their — particularly, their lower-income workers — have access to another form of health insurance," Radley said. "It might help these small businesses lower some of their own costs of providing health coverage to their workers."