Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased an average of 11% since 2003, to $3,695 per year for individual coverage and $9,950 per year for family coverage.[@@]
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., and the Health Research and Educational Trust, Washington, have published those figures in a report based in a survey of 3,017 public and private employers with 3 or more employees. Researchers conducted the survey between January and May.
The typical worker has family preferred provider organization coverage. The average cost of family PPO coverage has increased 9.7% in the past year, to $10,217 per year.
The overall rate of increase has slowed from the 14% increase reported in 2003, and the researchers note that employers were somewhat less aggressive about shifting costs onto employees’ shoulders.
About 61% of employees have health coverage this year, down only slightly from the coverage level of 62% reported in 2003.
But the Kaiser survey has found health premiums increasing an average of 10% or more for 4 consecutive years, and Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, concludes in a statement about the findings that something has to give.
“The cost of family health insurance is rapidly approaching the gross earnings of a full-time minimum wage worker,” Altman says.
Since President Bush took office in 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 59%. That compares with overall inflation of 9.7% and wage growth of 12%.
The Kaiser survey reveals another major shift in the group health market: 10% of the employers surveyed now offer high-deductible health plans, and 3.5% offer some kind of personal health account along with a high-deductible plan. Another 27% of the employers are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to offer a high-deductible plan option within the next 2 years.