Date: 20 Aug 2011

How do health insurance loading fees vary by group size?: implications for Healthcare reform

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Abstract

The health insurance loading fee represents the portion of the premium above the expected amount of medical care expenditures paid by the insurance company. The size of the loading fees and how they vary by employer group size have important implications for health policy given the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite their policy relevance, there is surprisingly little empirical evidence on the magnitude and the determinants of health insurance loading fees. This paper provides estimates of the loading fees by firm size using data from the confidential Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component–Insurance Component Linked File. Overall, we find an inverse relationship between employer group size and loading fees. Firms of up to 100 employees face similar loading fees of approximately 34%. Loads decline with firm size and are estimated to be on average 15% for firms with more than 100 employees, but less than 10,000 employees, and 4% for firms with more than 10,000 workers.