The Price We Pay for Health Care
Compare your benefits to Oregonians from all walks of life
By Melody Finnemore

As health care costs continue to rise, a growing number of Oregon employees are paying more toward their monthly premiums while having fewer benefit plans to choose from. Many small business owners have no health insurance at all.

Employers in Oregon and Southwest Washington actually pay more than the national average to provide health insurance to employees, according to Mercer Human Resources Consulting. The cost—about $8,000 a year per employee—rose 9 percent in Oregon and 8.3 percent in Washington last year compared to 6.1 percent nationally.

Mercer attributed the higher cost in part to the number of public employees represented in the survey. Of the 3,000 firms surveyed nationwide and the 66 in Oregon and Washington that responded, one-fourth were public sector employers, which traditionally offer bigger benefits packages.

The annual report, released late last year, also showed that more employers are offsetting the rising costs of providing health care coverage by asking employees to foot a larger portion of the bill through higher deductibles and co-pays. In addition, employers are offering fewer plans for employees to choose from.

Read also Life Expectancy vs. Universal Healthcare

We talked with people in a variety of occupations across the state about their benefits to provide a snapshot survey of health care coverage in Oregon:

Cindy Pick
Elementary Music Specialist at Woodland Elementary School, Reynolds School District

District offers options, and individual teacher selects a program. Dental care is covered 100 percent. Vision coverage includes full eye exam. Pick’s school district contributes an average of $640 per month toward her major medical program.
Annual average salary: $60,000

Dan Snow
Senior project manager for Walsh Construction Co., Portland

Employer provides self-insured plan for medical, dental, vision, and prescriptions. Employee coverage is free. Entire family is $60 per month pre-tax. Major medical covered at 90 percent. Average annual salary: Average annual salary for a Sr. Project Manager position in Oregon is $108,661.

Dow Hokoana
Field Operations Supervisor with Clackamas County Dog Services, Oregon City

Benefits include choice of three medical plans—full family coverage (includes a vision package); choice of 3 dental plans—full family coverage; Employee Assistance Program—100 percent employer paid. Depending on plan choice, there are little to no employee contributions (ex: Kaiser, $10 co-pay/visit).
Salary: $45,000 a year

Chris Winkler
Oregon Support Services Manager, Intel Corp., Hillsboro

Family of seven receives full medical, dental and life insurance for all family members with a 24 percent contribution to medical and 21 percent contribution to dental plans.
Average annual salary: “Covered wage” of Intel Oregon employees in 2004 was $91,477. (Includes bonuses, overtime and options, etc.)

Jennifer Schoenbeck
Graphic designer at Zapp Printing LLC, Portland

Employer fully covers medical and dental insurance for full-time employees.
Annual salary: $25,000

Brian Woolger
Portland Winter Hawks team captain

Medical insurance is fully covered through Hockey Canada league.
Average annual salary: Per diem. Host families cover some living expenses. Education expenses covered while playing, plus one-year college scholarship for every year played. Per diem: 16-year-old—$250/mo; 17—$300; 18—$400; 19—$500; and 20—$600.

Gwyneth McAlpine
Associate attorney at Perkins Coie LLP, Portland

Benefits include full medical and dental coverage for employees. Vision coverage is available at a cost of $6 per month.
Average annual salary: The range for first-year associate to senior associate salaries in Portland is $90,000 to $140,000.

Curtis Smith III
Table games dealer at Spirit Mountain Casino, Grand Ronde

Full coverage for medical, dental, vision, prescriptions, and employee assistance programs. $250 annual deductible for employees and a $750 annual deductible for an employee’s family. The employee insurance plan includes a flexible spending account.
Average hourly salary: $20-$22/hr. (Hours vary)

Janne Stark
Produce demo clerk at Seven Corners New Seasons Market, Portland

All employees receive medical and dental benefits. Full-time employees (20 hours/week or more) pay 20 percent of the cost of their benefits. Part-time employees (12-19 hours/week) contribute 50 percent toward their benefits.
Average hourly salary: $9.00-$14.50 per hour

Paul Dean
Mortgage broker and principal at Evergreen Ohana Group, Portland

Health coverage includes medical and dental. No vision coverage. Employer covers the employee only. Employees are responsible for spouses or dependents, so Dean pays $609/month for his wife and three children. Employer costs are $325/mo per employee (medical, prescription and dental)
Salary: Annual average is $135,000 (100 percent commission-based)

Garland Taylor
Owner of Garland Taylor CPA PC, Portland

Taylor’s wife is a public school teacher so he receives his benefits through her job. They have PPO medical, vision and dental. The Taylor’s contribution is $150/month to the $900/month family plan.
Average annual salary: $60,000

Dale Gary
Mail carrier, Gresham

U.S. Postal Service offers full medical, dental and prescription coverage; Gary contributes $90 a month toward insurance.
Salary: $46,500

Jeff Baird
Photographer and website designer, Joseph

As a self-employed professional, Baird pays for 100 percent of his medical insurance and has a $2,500 deductible. Baird estimates coverage for him and his wife, who receives her insurance through the Oregon Health Plan, is about $700 each month.
Annual average salary: $30,000

Captain Greg Ladrow
Firefighter with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue

Employer pays $900/month toward medical, dental and vision. Ladrow pays $33/month, not including annual deductibles or co-pays.
Annual average salary: $55,300

Kurt Risley
Associate minister, Crossroads Church, Portland

Medical is fully covered by employer, with a $10 co-pay for employee. Employee incentive plan provides total dental coverage if employee has annual exams and cleanings. Vision plan includes $10 co-pay for exams; glasses and contact lenses are out-of-pocket expense.
Average annual salary: $45,000

Ted Kulongoski
Oregon Governor

Health insurance is provided through Public Employees’ Benefits Board and includes full medical, dental and vision coverage.
Annual salary: $96,300

Kristena LaMar
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge

Health insurance is provided through the Public Employees’ Benefits Board and includes full medical, vision, dental, and prescription coverage, as well as a Health Savings Account, which was added as a benefit this year.
Annual salary: $95,800

Bill Allegri
Owner of Allegri Wine Shop, Gresham

Accident insurance policy covers his family for up to $2,500 worth of care if they are injured in an accident. Health insurance is too costly.
Average annual salary: $20,000

Michelle Cheek
Civil engineer at Black & Veatch, Lake Oswego

Health benefits include medical, vision, and dental for employee and spouse. Employee’s monthly contribution is approximately $215. Employer’s monthly contribution is approximately $450. Doctor visit co-pay is $15 and prescription co-pay is between $10 and $20.
Average annual salary: $70,000

John Maier
Brewmaster for Rogue Ales Oregon Brewery, Newport

Health benefits include medical, prescription and dental. Rogue Ales pays 70 percent of employee premiums. Employees pay premiums for dependents.
Salary: Not disclosed

Tim Kral
Executive director of Oregon Rehabilitation Association, Salem

Medical, dental and vision are fully covered by the association. Prescription coverage is available with a $15 co-pay. The association contributes $20 a month toward a membership at a fitness club or other fitness activities.
Average annual salary: $85,000

Cris Breshears
Stay-at-home mom

Health insurance is provided by husband’s employer, a Portland architecture firm. The Breshears family pays $730 a month for coverage for two adults and two children. Medical: PPO family coverage with $10 co-pay. Dental family coverage with $10 co-pay. Co-pays for prescriptions and ER visits.
Salary: $0

Kay Springer
General manager of Lithia Springs Resort, Ashland

No health benefits available through Lithia Springs Resort. Springer receives COBRA benefits through a previous employer.
Average annual salary: $35,000

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