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Annual family health care costs exceed $22,000

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Just how much is the annual cost of health care for a family of four? Enough to pay for a year of tuition at an in-state college or buy a midsize sedan.

According to the 2013 Milliman Medical Index, annual health costs of a typical family of four through an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization rose 6.3 percent to $22,030 in 2013. 

In 2012, the cost was $20,728, the first time those costs exceeded $20,000.

Of the $22,030 health care cost for a family of four, the employer pays about $12,886 while the employee pays the remaining $9,144, which is a combination of $5,544 in payroll deductions and $3,600 in employee out-of-pocket costs.

Though this year’s increase is less than increases seen in previous years, it’s still a notable jump in price for families and employees. Families have seen a larger percentage increase in costs than employers, the consulting and acturial firm said.

Employees’ total share of health costs grew 6.5 percent over last year, a faster rate than the 6.3 percent increase overall.

“The total share of this cost borne directly by the family — $9,144 in payroll deductions and out-of-pocket costs — now exceeds the cost of groceries for the typical family of four,” the study said. “The out-of-pocket cost alone — $3,600 for co-pays, coinsurance and other cost-sharing, is more than the average U.S. household spends on gas in a year.”

Milliman noted that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act hasn’t yet made much of an impact on the cost of care for a typical family enrolled in a PPO plan.

But they also said that over the long-term, elements of PPACA that expand insurance coverage may help reduce the average cost of care per service. With fewer uninsured patients, the study said, there’s potential to reduce the cost shifting that occurs when providers pass the cost of uncompensated care onto insured patients.

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