September 2011, Week 4


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Tue, 27 Sep 2011 21:00:35 -0400
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Survey: Health Care Premiums Soar for Many Employees 

By Jason Kane 
PBS News Hour
September 27, 2011 


As the economy sputters and many firms struggle to keep
their health benefits, the news officially became even
bleaker on Tuesday: Premiums for employer-sponsored health
coverage shot up 9 percent last year. That's significantly
more than the average increase in wages, according to a new
survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health
Research & Education Trust.

The typical premium for an American family now comes to
$15,073 -- with workers paying $4,129 of that amount and
employers covering the rest. The average rate for an
individual reached $5,429 annually, with workers paying $921
toward the coverage.

The premium hike this year -- triple what it was in 2010 --
towers above a 2.1 percent rise in wages and 3.2 percent jump
in inflation.

While significant, the news is a continuation of a long-
standing trend. In the past decade, premiums have increased
113 percent, while workers' wages and inflation have only
risen 34 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

The survey -- considered a gold standard for tracking
employer-based insurance numbers -- also found that American
companies added 2.3 million young adults to their parents'
family health insurance policies as a result of the health
reform overhaul.

Also significant: This year, nearly a third of workers (31
percent) have health plans with deductibles of $1,000 or
more. Twelve percent of those same individuals have
deductibles of $2,000 or more. In small firms, a full half
face deductibles topping $1,000.

The upswing in high deductibles comes in part from a rising
number of employers offering "consumer-driven plans" with
tax-preferred savings options such as Health Savings Accounts
or Health Reimbursement Arrangements. The number of employees
opting for the plans increased from 8 percent in 2009 to 17
percent in 2011.

This is the 13th year Kaiser and HRET have conducted the
Employer Health Benefits Survey, which aims to paint a
"detailed picture of trends in private health insurance costs
and coverage."

© 2011 PBS 


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