Family Health Insurance More Affordable in Slovenia Than in the US

Bor Slana/STA

Original article (in Slovenian) was published on 18/3/2024; Author: Katja Turšič

A person earning an average salary in Slovenia pays €355.63 per month for family health insurance, whereas in the US, a family of four faces insurance costs of €1,809 per month, as reported by the US non-profit KFF.

On February 18, published an interview with Christopher Coomes, an American residing and working in Slovenia. In the interview, Coomes shared that the cost of health insurance for a family of five in the US amounts to €1,200 per month—a figure that mirrors what he contributes in Slovenia through taxes, even though the average salary in Slovenia is between one-fifth and one-eighth of that in the US.

Since Coomes was talking about the cost of health insurance in this part of the interview, it’s inferred that he meant health care contributions when he said that “in Slovenia, too, you pay about €1,200 a month through taxes”.

According to his Linkedin profile, Coomes has served as an advisor to Damjan Kralj, CEO of the shopping mall operator BTC, since July 2021.

The Health Insurance Institution (ZZZS) of Slovenia has clarified on its website that, starting from January 1 of this year, health insurance now consolidates the previous 6.36% gross salary contribution for compulsory health insurance with the mandatory health contribution. This mandatory contribution, previously a separate insurance payment, is set at €35 and is adjusted annually in line with the average gross salary growth.

Under the Social Security Contributions Act, the compulsory health insurance contribution for employees, students and pupils in Slovenia is pegged at 6.36% of gross salary, ts, and pupils in Slovenia is pegged at 6.36% of the gross salary, with an additional employer contribution rate of 6.56% of the employee’s gross salary.

Eurostat data indicates that the average gross salary in Slovenia last year was €2,220.95. Consequently, the combined monthly health insurance contribution for the policyholder and the employer—which extends coverage to the spouse and children residing permanently in Slovenia—was €286.95. Therefore, the total monthly cost for compulsory health insurance, alongside the mandatory health contribution that the policyholder’s spouse is also legally obliged to pay, amounts to €356.95 for an individual earning an average salary.

According to KFF, a US-based health research non-profit, the average monthly premium for family health insurance for a family of four in the US was $1,999, or approximately €1,809, last year. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate reliable data for a family of five, such as the Coomes family.

Razkrinkavanje compared the cost of family health insurance for a family of four and a family of five in 2024 using the Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator, which is available on the KFF website.

The calculation was based on official US government data on the annual income of married couples in 2022, which had a median of $110,800. Razkrinkavanje used the median age of the US population, 39 years, as provided by the latest US Census Bureau data, and assumed all children to be ten years old.

The calculation shows that the monthly health insurance premium for a family of four would amount to $1,513, while the premium for a family of five would stand at $1,798.

According to KFF’s annual survey of employer health benefits, 91% of employers with at least three employees offered partial coverage of health insurance premiums for their employees last year. Employees whose family health insurance premiums were partially covered by their employers paid an average of $548, or approximately €496, in additional costs.

Data from the World Health Organization reveals that in 2021, the US allocated 17.36% of its GDP to health care, in contrast to Slovenia, which spent 9.48% of its GDP on health.

In his interview, Coomes also claimed that the average salary in Slovenia is a fifth to an eighth what it is in the US. For the comparison of average gross salaries in Slovenia and the US, Razkrinkavanje has taken data for 2022, as data on average gross salaries in the US for 2023 are not yet available.

According to the US Social Security, the average gross salary in 2022 was $61,220 per year or $ 5,102 per month, which equals €4,783.

The Slovenian Statistics Office reports that the average monthly gross salary in Slovenia for the same year was €2,024.

Razkrinkavanje’s calculations show that to afford €1,200 per month in taxes for family health insurance in Slovenia, an individual would need a gross monthly income of €9,288. In this scenario, the policyholder would contribute €590.71, and the employer would contribute €609.29 each month.

Based on the latest data from the Statistics Office regarding gross salary distribution, an individual earning a monthly gross salary of €9,288 would be earning more than 99.58% of people in Slovenia.

Razkrinkavanje has communicated the findings to Christopher Coomes and will publish his response upon receipt.

Coomes’ assertion that he pays €1,200 in taxes for health insurance for a family of five in Slovenia, equating to what he would have paid in the US, is inaccurate.

Furthermore, the statement that the average salary in Slovenia is between a fifth and an eighth of the average salary in the US does not hold true.