Rising Health Insurance Costs Shifted To Employees, Survey Finds
An annual employer health benefits survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust found that premiums for employer-provided health insurance jumped in 2011. The survey also found, though, that 2.3 million young adults have gained coverage through their parents' policies as a result of the 2010 health law. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
The Washington Post: "Employers have been steadily shifting the cost of health insurance onto workers over the past decade, according to survey data released Tuesday, pointing to a fundamental change in the way coverage for most Americans is paid for. Half of workers at small firms with individual policies now face annual deductibles of $1,000 or more, compared with 16 percent of those workers in 2006. At large firms, the share has grown from 10 percent to nearly one-third" (Aizenman, 9/27).
Bloomberg: "The cost for businesses to buy health coverage for workers rose the most this year since 2005 and may reach $32,175 for a family in 2021, according to a survey of private and public employers. The average cost of a family policy climbed 9 percent in 2011 to $15,073, according to a poll of 2,088 private companies and state and local government agencies by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, California, and the Chicago- based American Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust" (Young, 9/27).
Los AngelesTimes: "Employee contributions to their health benefits have grown 168% since 1999, more than three times the rate of earnings and more than four times the rate of overall inflation, the data show. That's significant because employer-sponsored health insurance is the leading source of health coverage in the United States, providing about 150 million people with benefits" (Helfand, 9/27).
Politico: "The average premium for employer-sponsored insurance for an individual was $5,429 and $15,073 for a family in 2011. But relatively little of the premium increase came directly out of the employees’ pockets, on average $22 more for an individual policy, and $132 more for a family policy. That’s not a statistically significant increase. But some economists say that health costs have been hitting the family pocketbook in another way, by slowing wage growth" (Feder, 9/27).
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The New York Times: "The steep increase in rates is particularly unwelcome at a time when the economy is still sputtering and unemployment continues to hover at about 9 percent. Many businesses cite the high cost of coverage as a factor in their decision not to hire, and health insurance has become increasingly unaffordable for more Americans. Over all, the cost of family coverage has about doubled since 2001, when premiums averaged $7,061, compared with a 34 percent gain in wages over the same period" (Abelson, 9/27).
Kaiser Health News: "Although many benefit analysts say the federal health law's requirements played only a small part in the rise, the results could provide political fodder for both supporters and opponents of the law. 'It's problematic,' says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, because the No. 1 concern cited about the health law is a fear that it will increase costs. Still, Lake notes that many Americans don't know much about the law, so the news of rising premiums 'could also fuel support for provisions in the law that require insurance premiums of 10 percent or more to be reviewed.' Premium increases have played a starring role throughout the debate over the health care law" (Appleby, 9/27).
The Wall Street Journal: The survey's researchers "estimated that only around 1.5 percentage points of the 9% increase was tied to provisions of the federal health care overhaul, which mandated changes to plans, including the addition of children up to the age of 26 to their parents' plans and an end to out-of-pocket costs for certain preventive-care benefits. One possible reason for the limited impact is that 56% of covered workers were in plans that had been "grandfathered," or kept largely unchanged so that certain provisions of the federal law wouldn't affect them. ... Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said the higher premiums were linked to the increasing cost of medical care, despite the damped demand for health services" (Mathews, 9/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.