Employers reported modest premium increases in 2013, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Education Trust study published today in the journal Health Affairs. The findings show employer-sponsored family health coverage grew 4% from the previous year to an average of $16,351, with workers paying an average of $4,565. The findings are significant in recent historical terms. Kaiser says that since 2003, premiums have increased 80%, far faster than wages at 31% and inflation at 27%.
“There’s no questions that this is a year with a very moderate premium increase,” Kaiser’s president and CEO Drew Altman said in a conference call with reporters this morning. “We’ll have to see what employers do with it.”
The survey finds that 78% of all workers have a general annual deductible, up 6% from 2012, and 38% of those with deductibles are priced at $1,000 or more. The respondents’ opinions of consumer-driven health plans as an effective cost-cutting strategy, however, were not very strong, with only 20% saying they are “very effective.” The strategy that ranked highest for controlling costs is employee wellness programs, with 35% saying they are “very effective.”
Altman says “it’s tough to say what factors could be holding down costs,” but, as “wages have been flat, or even declining in real terms,” workforces might not exactly see a small premium bump as a wallet-saving change.
“That’s not the public’s perception of what’s going on,” Altman says. “They’re also paying deductibles, which are, in many cases, far higher than they used to be. There’s more going on here than just premiums.”
This is the 15th annual collaboration between Kaiser and HRET on this survey of employers. This year, the group polled more than 2,000 small and large employers.
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