Collecting health care spending information

    During the health care debate, many of us got a lot more curious, and informed, about the cost of our workplace insurance.

    The Census is at it again. This time the government is asking businesses to share information on their health care spending. During the health care debate, many of us got a lot more curious, and informed, about the cost of our workplace insurance.

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has estimates on what the average Philadelphia worker pays for health coverage. On the agency Web site, you can find out how much more employees in a small business pay, compared to workers in a large company.

    To make those estimates, each year the government asks companies across the country to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. James Branscome manages the survey.

    Branscome: There was a gap, a serious gap in information about the cost of health insurance. Everybody had a guess but there was no one really collecting detailed data. Regardless of what your opinions are regarding health insurance or health care, I would prefer that the people making the decisions have the best data possible.

    Branscome says in addition to policy makers, small business owners also check the data to see if their costs are in line with other firms in the same industry.

    The information is culled from a sample of about 40,000 companies, and surveys have been arriving in company mailboxes over the past few weeks.

    Last year, data from the survey helped fuel the health care debate and the insurance-industry overhaul.

    Branscome: We had a lot of people both on the Hill and in the White House, and I would say on both sides of the argument asking us for information and using our data to make their points.

    In Pennsylvania, workplace health insurance for a single employee costs about $4,700 dollars a year. For companies with fewer than 10 workers, the average cost is about $400 more.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.