Cost of U.S. Workers' Health Premiums Surged in
TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Average annual premiums
for employer-sponsored family health coverage shot up 9 percent in
the past year, to more than $15,000, according to new research from
the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and
On average, U.S. workers now pay more than $4,000 each year
towards health coverage, and the increase has far outpaced growth
in workers' wages, the 2011 employer health benefits survey
"This year's 9 percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," said Drew Altman, Kaiser President and CEO, in a news release issued Tuesday.
Premiums increased 2.1 percent faster than workers' pay, and 3.2
percent faster than general inflation, the researchers found.
Overall, family premiums have surged 113 percent since 2001 --
significantly more than the 34 percent growth in wages and 27
percent for inflation.
In the wake of the 2010 health reform law affecting employer
coverage, the survey also estimated 2.3 million uninsured young
adults up to the age of 26 were added to their parents'
employer-sponsored family health plans.
"The law is helping millions of young adults to obtain health coverage. In the past, many of these young adults would have lost coverage when they left home or graduated college," study author Gary Claxton, co-executive director of the Kaiser Initiative on Health Reform and Private Insurance, said in the news release.
The survey also revealed 31 percent of covered workers are in
high-deductible health plans, having to pay at least $1,000 in
deductibles for single coverage. Twelve percent of these workers
face deductibles of at least $2,000.
People working for smaller businesses (fewer than 200 employees)
are more likely to have these high deductibles, the research found.
Fifty percent of workers in smaller firms face deductibles of at
least $1,000, including 28 percent with deductibles topping
This trend reflects a rise in high-deductible, consumer-driven
plans over the past two years that contain tax-preferred savings
options such as a Health Savings Account. As more firms offered
these plans, the share of covered workers enrolled in them doubled,
from 8 percent in 2009 to 17 percent in 2011, the survey
Moreover, recent health reform has resulted in 56 percent of
covered workers being insured under "grandfathered" plans, which
are exempt from some health reform requirements, such as having an
external appeals process.
Among the other findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation
- Premiums for worker-only health coverage increased 8 percent in
2011 to $5,429 annually. Workers pay an average of $921 toward this
- The share of companies offering health insurance to their
workers is 60 percent this year, virtually unchanged from
- Covered workers pay an average of $22 in co-pays for primary
care and $32 in co-pays for specialty care for in-network
- Covered workers with three- and four-tier drug plans have
average co-payments of $10 for generic drugs, $29 for preferred
brand-name drugs, $49 for non-preferred brand-name drugs, and $91
for specialty drugs.
- About 26 percent of large companies (200 or more employees)
offer retiree health benefits in 2011, unchanged from last year and
down significantly from 32 percent in 2007.
These findings, which reflect early provisions in health reform,
will "provide valuable insight for employers, providers, consumers
and policymakers as they prepare for additional provisions to take
effect by 2014," Maulik Joshi, senior vice president for research
at the American Hospital Association, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
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