Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Employees' Share of Insurance Costs Still Rising

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Employees' Share of Insurance Costs Still Rising

Article excerpt

FROM HEALTH AFFAIRS

The rise in the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance has ameliorated in the past year, continuing a flattening trend, but patients continue to be asked to pay a bigger share.

That's the conclusion of the 13th annual survey of nonfederal private and public employers with three or more workers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, and published in the journal Health Affairs (doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0644).

Kaiser and HRET estimate that in 2013, 149 million nonelderly people receive coverage through employer-sponsored insurance, with 57% of U.S. firms offering health benefits--a statistically insignificant change from 61% in 2012 and 60% in 2011. Smaller companies and those with many low-wage workers are less likely to offer benefits.

In 2013, the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 5% to $5,884 for single coverage and 4% to $16,351 for family coverage from 2012. This continues the pattern seen over the past few years, with relatively small premium increases.

Workers on average pay 18% of the premium for single coverage and 29% for family coverage, again, similar to the two previous years. "We are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs without cutting back benefits for workers," Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement.

However, workers are still struggling to cover health costs. During the same period (2012-2013), wages increased 1.8% and inflation increased 1.1%. And since 2003, the average premium for family coverage has increased 80%, and the average worker contribution has risen 89%.

Employers continue to cost-shift. Seventy-eight percent of covered workers have a deductible, with the average for single coverage running about $1,100 (largely unchanged from 2012). But big deductibles are becoming more common. Firms with fewer than 200 employees generally charged more than $1,000, and the proportion doing that rose from 49% of all such firms in 2012 to 58% in 2013.

Three-quarters of workers have a fixed copayment for office visits with primary care physicians and specialists. …

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