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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

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/09/survey-health-care-premiums-soar-for-many-employees.html

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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