NU Online News Service, July 16, 2003, 5:50 p.m. EDT – A new chart book from the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, gives some figures that help explain why employers have been trying to shift more of the health care cost burden to employees.

“The employee’s out-of-pocket spending for health care services is near a historic low point,” the HIAA says in an introduction to a graph that shows employees’ out-of-pocket health care spending as a percentage of total health care spending from 1970 to 2001.

The percentage fell below 15% in 2001, from close to 35% in 1970, according to statistics that HIAA obtained from the National Health Statistics Group, an arm of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Employees’ share of health care spending was over 20% as recently as 1990.

Another chart, based on data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., shows that employees paid only 26% of the total health insurance premium in 2002. The percentage has not changed since 1999, when it was 30%.