KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Costs Of Premiums For Employer-Provided Health Insurance Jump

A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average annual premium for family coverage was 9 percent higher in 2011 than in the previous year. 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 the law's supporters and opponents. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

The New York Times: Health Insurers Push Premiums Sharply Higher
Major health insurance companies have been charging sharply higher premiums this year, outstripping any growth in workers' wages and creating more uncertainty for the Obama administration and employers who are struggling to drive down an unrelenting rise in medical costs. A study released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research group, showed that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer reached $15,073 in 2011 — 9 percent higher than in the previous year (Abelson and Bernstein, 9/27).

Los Angeles Times: Premiums For Employer-Provided Health Insurance Jump
The price of health insurance provided by employers for families jumped 9 percent this year over 2010 as rising health care expenses contributed to the largest premium increases in six years, a national survey shows (Helfand, 9/27).

The Washington Post: Surveys: Health Insurance Costs Shifted To Workers, Even As Premiums Surge
Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance continued to escalate this year even as the share of workers getting less generous coverage reached a new high, according to survey data released Tuesday. In 2011, for the first time, half of workers at small firms with individual policies faced annual deductibles of $1,000 or more. In 2006, that figure was 16 percent. At large firms, the share has grown from 6 percent to 22 percent over the same five years (Aizenman, 9/27).

Kaiser Health News: Costs Of Employer Insurance Plans Surge In 2011
Employers' spending on health coverage for workers spiked abruptly this year, with the average cost of a family plan rising by 9 percent, triple the growth seen in 2010. … 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 (Appleby, 9/27).

USA Today: Survey: Health Insurance Costs Surge In 2011
As Congress works to decrease the federal deficit by cutting health care programs such as Medicare, policy experts say health providers will have to find money elsewhere, which could force insurance premiums higher for most Americans (Kennedy, 9/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Employers' Health-Care Premiums Jump 9%
The health-insurance premiums employers pay rose sharply this year, with the average annual cost of family coverage passing the $15,000 mark for the first time, according to a major survey (Mathews, 9/28).

McClatchy: Job-based Health Insurance Premiums Rise Sharply
After modest increases last year, the cost of job-based health insurance for families and individuals has jumped sharply this year, even though insurers are paying less in benefits as cash-strapped American workers opt for less medical care. For the estimated 150 million workers with employer-sponsored coverage, the average cost of family health insurance jumped 9 percent this year to $15,073, while the price of individual coverage rose 8 percent to $5,429 (Pugh, 9/27).

Reuters: Health Insurance Premiums Climb Faster In 2011
The cost of health insurance continues to climb for companies and workers, with annual family premiums this year growing at a pace triple that of 2010 and outpacing wage increases, according to a survey. As the United States continues to grapple with a stubbornly weak economy, family premiums in employer-sponsored health plans jumped 9 percent this year and single premiums rose 8 percent, compared with 2010's 3 percent and 5 percent, the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual study, published Tuesday, found (Sleyukh, 9/27).

The Hill: Insurance Costs Spike, Opening New Republican Attacks On Health Law
Republicans seized on a new report showing a spike in insurance premiums to argue President Obama's health care law has failed to reduce costs. The report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that the cost of employer-provided family plans increased by 9 percent to an average of $15,073 in 2011, put the White House on defense a day after it became more likely that the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law before the 2012 election. It showed health care costs are rising much faster than U.S. wages and salaries or the rate of inflation. The steep costs could put an extra pinch on households struggling through an extended housing crisis and high unemployment (Pecquet, 9/27).

Politico: Health Premiums Now More Than A New Car
Premiums for employer-provided health insurance jumped 8-9 percent in 2011, passing $15,000 for family coverage — which is more than the cost of a Ford Fiesta. That's a big jump from the 3 percent increase in 2010. But it's in line with historical increases that have averaged just over 10 percent per year since 2001, according to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation's Employer Health Benefits survey. The Kaiser survey also found that 2.3 million young adults now have coverage under their parents' policies — double the recent U.S. Census estimate of gains since the ACA allowed young adults to stay on their parents' policies until age 26. Kaiser surveyed employers about the numbers of dependents they were now covering, while the Census counted the net increase of young adults who have coverage under age 26 (Feder, 9/27).

The Associated Press: Survey: Health Insurance Costs Surge in 2011
The cost of employer-sponsored health insurance surged this year, snapping a trend toward moderate growth, but experts say these increases may slow again in 2012. Annual premiums for family coverage climbed 9 percent and surpassed $15,000 for the first time, according to a report released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. Premiums for single coverage rose 8 percent compared to 2010 (Murphy, 9/27).

Newshour (Video): What's Behind 9% Jump In Employee-Paid Health Insurance Programs
A survey released Tuesday by The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that annual health insurance premiums for a family of four climbed $15,000 this year. Judy Woodruff discusses what's causing health insurance costs to rise with Susan Dentzer of Health Affairs (9/27).

In other news related to insurance premium costs -

The Washington Post: The Federal Diary: Health Insurance Costs Rise At Lower Rate, But They Still Rise
The good news and the bad news is that health insurance premiums for non-postal federal employees and all retirees will increase an average of 3.8 percent in 2012. The increase certainly is much lower than the 7.3 percent jump for this year. But when your pay is frozen, as federal pay is through this year and next, the premium boost amounts to another hole in your wallet (Davidson, 9/27).

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