For the second year in a row, health insurance premiums for job-based family coverage rose a modest 4 percent, reflecting slowed health spending. But a growing number of workers, especially those working for small businesses, feel the pinch of deductibles of at least $1,000, reports Kaiser Health News.
More than a third have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 this year before their insurance kicks in, while wages continue to grow far more slowly than health insurance costs. The average family plan premium topped $16,000 for the first time, with workers paying on average $4,565 toward that cost, not counting copays and deductibles, according to a survey of about 2,000 employers released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
The average cost of a single employee’s insurance premiums rose 5 percent, to $5,884, with workers paying an average of $999, the survey found. Workers’ wages increased 1.8 percent on average, while general inflation rose 1.1 percent. The survey was done between January and May of this year.
“The premium increase this year is very moderate, but the pain factor for health insurance cost has not disappeared,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the foundation. “Over time, what people pay for health care has dramatically eclipsed both their wages and inflation.”
The increases documented in the report, moderate by historic standards, come amid ongoing debate over the federal health law’s ability to rein in health care costs. In July, the Obama administration granted a one-year delay, until 2015, in the requirement that employers with 50 or more workers offer coverage or face a fine, prompting Republicans to call for a similar delay in the rule requiring most individuals to carry coverage. Critics and opponents have also sparred over whether the health law will slow premium growth. All sides may find fodder in the report, observers say. Read the full report.