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Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Costs Up By 4%

Posted Sep 14 2012 12:41pm

The recent survey completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, shows that the cost of health insurance provided by employers increased by about 4% this year.  While this seems concerning, it’s better than the 9% increase the survey reported from the year before.  Annual insurance premiums for families increased to $15,745 based on the report.

Experts are warning that prices may continue to rise in 2012 and through 2013 according to Chad Terhune’s article on the LA Times.  Even moderate increases in the cost of health care have major impacts on businesses and workers already struggling through economic challenges.  Health premiums have continued to increase year after year and employers simply cannot keep up.  They are shifting these c0sts to their employees who also cannot afford the continual increases.  Since 2002, premiums have increased a shocking 97% which is about three times faster than wages and inflation throughout the nation.

The chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation, Drew Altman, points out that it doesn’t feel like a moderate increase to struggling workers.  There is a lot of evidence pointing to the theory that rates will keep increasing, but no one know exactly when or by how much.  This has a lot of workers worried about their paychecks getting smaller over time.  Based on survey results, about 61% of US firms offered health insurance to their employees which is surprisingly unchanged from the previous year.  This shows that employers understand the value of health insurance offered through work, but know it’s going to get more expensive.  Employer-sponsored health insurance continues to be the leading way Americans obtain health benefits, which is about 150 million people.

Employers are still paying the chunk of premiums, but there was a time when a lot of companies fully paid health insurance benefits.  This is rarely the case anymore.  The average employee paid $4316, which is about 27%, toward the family premium of $15745.  Individual coverage costs much less at about $5615 in 2012.  US healthcare spending keeps growing at astronomical levels making premiums go up.  Experts attribute these trends to people avoiding the doctors for years to save money, and then an increase in medical use after years of people putting off the inevitable.

Health care reform aims to fix some of the problems that the health care industry faces today causing costs to skyrocket year after year.  It’s too soon to determine how the full implementation of health care reform will affect costs, but many Americans are hopeful.  Chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health , David Lansky, doesn’t believe there’s been a sustainable fix just yet and that the price moderation is short term.

There’s definitely some major concern that employer-sponsored health insurance will continue to be more expensive and perhaps someday it will be a thing of the past.  The good news is that it is a driving factor as employers hire as health insurance benefits are a major perk that prospective employees highly value.  Looking forward to 2013, employers surveyed last month reported a premium increase of 7% on average, but this may change as the year goes on.  As deductibles change and benefits are altered, rate increases can vary significantly.

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