Employer Health Premium Costs Climb at a Slower Pace: Survey

By Jessica DuBois-Maahs

Aug. 23, 2013

Health-insurance premiums for U.S. workers’ family coverage plans increased by 4 percent this year, which is less than the two previous years. It’s a possible sign that health insurance costs are becoming more affordable for both employers and their employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust's 2013 “Employer Health Benefits Survey.”

Annual premiums for a family coverage plan through one’s employer increased to an average of $16,351 this year, a 4.5 percent jump from the previous year. Single coverage, on the other hand, increased by 5 percent this year, with the average annual employer-sponsored insurance premium cost at $5,884, according to the survey.

Serving as a sign that a worker’s access to employee-sponsored health insurance may be becoming more attainable, the survey found that the percentage of covered workers enrolled in a plan with an annual deductible increased in 2013 to 78 percent, and virtually all employers with more than 1,000 workers are offering health insurance coverage to at least some of their employees.

Over time, however, the outlook for health insurance costs appears to be less positive. In the past 10 years, for example, the average premium for family coverage has drastically increased by 80 percent, according to the survey. Additionally, 58 percent of covered workers at small firms, which have between three and 199 workers, now have a deductible of a $1,000 or more.

The minor changes in employer-based health benefits may be an indication that health insurance companies and employers are feeling the calm before the storm. Sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system in 2014 will affect employers and workers in regard to offering new insurance benefits, cost-sharing consortiums and health care premium costs.

The annual survey gathered responses from nonfederal private and public employers with three or more workers and was conducted from January through May.

Jessica DuBois-Maahs is Workforce’s editorial intern. Comment below or email Follow DuBois-Maahs on Twitter at @JessDuBoisMaahs.

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