Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report: Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums Increased Modestly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Report: Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums Increased Modestly

Article excerpt

A new report released Wednesday shows that employers and workers are generally paying more for health insurance coverage this year, continuing a recent trend of modest annual cost increases.

The survey, conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, finds that premiums for employer- sponsored health insurance family plans rose by 3 percent for this year. The increase is similar to the annual rises in inflation and workers' wages.

The average total cost for family insurance plans was $16,834 this year with workers chipping in an average of $4,823, or about one-fourth of that cost, according to the survey. More than 2,000 small and large employers participated in the survey.

About 150 million Americans receive health insurance coverage from their employer.

"These findings are positive and reflect a general slowing in health care costs overall," Maulik Joshi, president of Health Research & Educational Trust, said in a written statement. The trust is a nonprofit affiliate of the American Hospital Association.

The report also showed that the premiums' cost grew at a slower rate since 2009 than the preceding five years, much in line with overall trends in health care costs.

Annual premiums for health plans that cover only an employee not his or her family rose about 2 percent from last year with costs averaging at $6,025 with the employee contributing an average of $1,081 to the coverage's cost.

Drew Altman, the president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the survey results reflect a "historic" period of moderation and stability in health care prices. He said moderate increase in premiums are easier to bear because of a corresponding rise in worker wages.

"The pain level of rising premiums is at least lower than in years past, at least for this one year," Altman said.

The relative slowdown comes after health costs rose dramatically over the past few decades. …

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