KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Employer Health Coverage Costs Show Modest Growth, But Worker Out-Of-Pocket Expenses Jump

The findings, based on a poll of employers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, also note that the availability of employer-sponsored health coverage was holding steady. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

The Wall Street Journal: Cost Of Employer Health Coverage Shows Muted Growth
The increase was slightly less than the 4 percent seen last year, according to the annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association. The share of the family-plan premium borne by employees was $4,823, or 29 percent of the total, the same percentage as last year. The total annual cost of employer coverage for an individual was $6,025 in the 2014 survey, up 2 percent, a difference that wasn't statistically significant (Mathews, 9/10). 

Los Angeles Times: Employer Health Rates Rise 3%, Worker Deductibles Top $1,200
Those results reflect a recent trend of slower growth in health care costs. But many employers and health-policy experts predict bigger increases for 2015 and beyond as the economy recovers (Terhune, 9/10). 

Politico: Workplace Insurance Coverage Levels Steady In Year One Of Obamacare
It’s only year one of the Obamacare exchanges, and the findings won’t quell the debate about how businesses will respond in the coming years to new requirements and more regulatory and economic changes to the health industry. But the steady availability of employer-sponsored coverage and the “extraordinarily modest” premium rise indicate that predictions that “the sky would fall” under Obamacare have not come to pass, said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the study with the Health Research and Education Trust (Norman, 9/10).

Kaiser Health News: Family Insurance Premiums Rise Modestly For 3rd Year, Survey Finds
While both critics and supporters of the Affordable Care Act are likely to find fodder for their positions, the report portrays 2014 as a relatively stable year for employer coverage, with little change in the type of plans offered or their costs. The percentage of firms offering health benefits (55 percent) and the percentage of workers covered at those firms (62 percent) were statistically unchanged from 2013, despite predictions of the law’s critics that many firms would drop coverage (Appleby, 9/10).

USA Today: Employer Health Plan Deductibles See Big 5-Year Jump
A report out today puts numbers behind what hit many workers when they signed up for health insurance during open enrollment last year: deductible shock. Premiums for employer-paid insurance are up 3 percent this year, but deductibles are up nearly 50 percent since 2009, the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows (O’Donnell, 9/10). 

Reuters: U.S. Health Premiums Creep Up, But Out-Of-pocket Costs Jump
U.S. health insurance premiums are going up only 3 percent this year, to an average of $16,834 for a family. Workers will pay about 20 percent of that cost, or $4,823, according to a study released on Wednesday. The Kaiser Family Foundation's 2014 Employer Health Benefits report says that rate increases are slowing from recession highs that ran far above inflation rates. In the past 10 years, health care premiums rose a cumulative total of 69 percent. However, the big leap in deductibles offsets the good news for consumers (Pinsker, 9/10).

McClatchy: Job-Based Health Premiums Increasing Slowly, Deductibles Faster
Average premiums for job-based family health coverage are up just 3 percent this year, while the cost of single coverage rose only 2 percent, continuing a sustained trend of moderate growth in insurance costs, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 businesses. The slowdown in premium growth is good news for the estimated 150 million Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage (Pugh, 9/10).

NBC News: Average Health Insurance Premiums Rise Slightly
Insurance companies raised their rates for premiums by about 3 percent this year for people covered by employer health insurance, which includes most Americans, according to a new report. The average family premium is $16,834, and the average employee pays $4,823 of that. “Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the survey, said in a statement. Eighty percent of all covered workers must pay an average deductible of $1,217 (Fox, 9/10).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Employer Health Insurance Up Moderately This Year, Survey Finds
The average annual cost of employer-sponsored health insurance for a family rose three percent this year to $16,834, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in its 2014 survey of employer health benefits released Wednesday. Of that, employees pay on average $4,823 a year towards the cost (Markiewicz, 9/10).

In related news -

Des Moines Register: Employers Stick With Health Insurance
Most Iowa employers continue to offer health insurance to their workers, even though costs keep rising and headaches keep multiplying, a new survey shows. Some critics of the federal Affordable Care Act predicted that many employers would drop insurance because the 2010 law included new regulations and costs. But that is not happening in a big way in Iowa, according to the annual survey of 1,002 employers that Lind is releasing today. In fact, the overall percentage of Iowa employers offering coverage ticked up from 77 percent in 2013 to 81 percent this year (Leys, 9/11).

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