Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums rose a modest four percent for family coverage and five percent for individual coverage, according to a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET). Kaiser and HRET conduct an annual survey of non-federal public and private employers with three or more workers—the report shows results for employer-sponsored health benefits in 2013.
Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman said the report was good news and noted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “has not caused employers to raise premiums or drop coverage.” But Altman added that “probably the biggest factor has just been the slowdown in the economy.” (“Study Reveals Insurance Premiums Rise Slowly For Second Year In A Row,” AHLA Health and Life Sciences Law Daily, August 21, 2013)
Premiums have been held in check partly by increasing out-of-pocket costs that workers pay through co-payments and deductibles. “It’s part of what I see as a quiet revolution in health insurance, from more comprehensive to less comprehensive, with higher deductibles,” said Altman. (“Health Care Costs Climb Moderately, Survey Says,” New York Times, August 20, 2013)
There is a debate about whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is contributing to the moderation. It has not gone into effect fully yet, but some health care providers might already be cutting costs in anticipation. At the same time, employers have been asking workers to pay higher deductibles and be more selective, the New York Times noted.
The slower rate of growth means employers – who typically pay the bulk of employee health costs – are less likely to try to cut worker benefits in order to contain costs. “We’re not seeing that,” said Altman. “It’s not an environment where they should be looking to dramatically cut workers’ health benefits.” (“Job-based health insurance costs rise in 2013,” McClatchy, August 20, 2013)
Some of the key findings noted in the report include:
- The share of employers providing health insurance is statistically unchanged from 2012
- An average of 77% of workers are eligible for employee health coverage; of these workers, about 80% are enrolled in job-based coverage
- 62% of workers at companies that offer coverage have insurance through their employers.
- 93% of businesses with 50 or more employees offer health benefits this year
- 57% of firms with at least three employees offer health benefits
- The average annual premium for a family is $16,351
- 77% of firms offer at least one wellness program
- 78% of workers face an annual deductible, up from 72% last year
- 38% of all covered workers face a large deductible of at least $1,000 or more
- Premiums have climbed 80% since 2003
To read the report summary, please click here.
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