“Average American families of 4″ may be spending more than they expect, but still less than their fair share, on health coverage.

Researchers at Milliman Inc., Seattle, an actuarial firm, say the typical U.S. family of 4 will spend $13,382 on medical care this year, up 9.6% from the total for 2005.

Members of that typical family will have to pay about 38% of the cost or $5,020, with $2,810 going toward payroll deductions and $2,210 coming out of their own pockets, the Milliman researchers estimate.

The consumer’s portion of the cost has decreased as a percentage of the total over the past 5 years even though the total amount of money that the consumer is spending has increased, Milliman researchers say.

“The total cost…shifts to the employer,” according to Bob Cosway, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman.

While the employees’ costs increased only 6.8% in 2006, the employers’ costs rose 11.3%, according to Milliman.

The researchers who computed the new Milliman Medical Index are basing the measure on costs for a family of 4 covered by an employer-sponsored PPO plan.

The index total includes doctor bills, hospital bills and payments for prescription drugs.