I read a release today that made me feel a twinge (only a twinge, mind you) of guilt. I’ve been hearing for years from single folks how us workers with families get unfair special treatment – more flexible schedules, better pay, better benefits. Now, new study findings from EBRI may give these surly singletons more ammo for their argument.

EBRI finds that among the roughly 4% of Americans covered by consumer-driven health plans, workers with employee-only coverage have seen their annual employer contributions decrease, while those with family coverage have seen their annual employer contributions increase.

The report, published in the November 2009 EBRI Notes, examines among other factors the availability of health reimbursement arrangements and health savings account-eligible plans as well as employer and individual contribution behavior.

According to EBRI, although the percentage of workers with an HRA or HSA plan whose employer contributes to the account has not changed statistically since 2006, the percentage of employers making contributions dropped from 67% in 2008 to 63% in 2009.

Further, the percentage of workers with employee-only coverage reporting that their employer contributed $1,000 or more to the account increased from 26% to 37% from 2006 to 2008, but in 2009 fell to 32%. The percentage of workers with an employer contribution of less than $200 increased from 3% to 8% between 2008 and 2009.

In contrast, among workers with family coverage, the percentage of workers receiving a contribution of $1,000 or more increased from 59% in 2008 to 73% in 2009.  Nearly three-quarters of workers with family coverage in a CDHP now receive an annual employer contribution of $1,000 or more.

Is this a case of employers learning more about CDHPs, and seeing that families – particularly those with children – could use a little more, while singles that tend to be younger and healthier could get by on a little less? Or, is this proof of the special treatment that some single workers protest?

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit News becomes archived within a week of it being published

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access