This year, premiums grew 3 percent for employer-sponsored health plans, following last year's 4 percent rise, according to results from a national survey released Wednesday.
But coverage remains expensive, with the average family plan now costing more than
"What we're really seeing this year, but we've seen it develop gradually, is a shift in what insurance is for most Americans -- from more comprehensive to skimpier coverage," said
There's been much more political focus, Altman noted, on the federal Affordable Care Act, which continues to transform the market where individuals purchase coverage outside of employer groups.
About 5 percent of Minnesotans purchase coverage in the individual market, which serves people who are self-employed or work for companies that don't provide health insurance. Employers provided benefits to more than half of all state residents in 2013, according to data from the
The results released Wednesday were based on survey responses from more than 1,900 small and large employers across the country, including
This year, 29 percent of all workers are in high-deductible health plans, up from 20 percent in 2014, according to the Kaiser survey. The average deductible for single coverage averages
Half of all covered workers face deductibles of at least
A general annual deductible is the amount a health-plan enrollee must pay out of pocket before all or most services are covered.
"Since 2006, the average deductible among covered workers with a deductible has increased 153 percent, compared to a 52 percent in the average premium for single coverage," researchers said in an analysis of results published by the journal Health Affairs.
The Kaiser numbers don't include state-level data, but the national trends line up with what's been happening in
There have been widespread complaints about high deductibles in the individual market, where people have the option of buying through a government-run "marketplace" like
But the focus in the individual market has been on premium spikes, where
Insurers in several states are proposing big jumps, while others are significantly scaling back offerings in the individual market due to financial losses.
"The premiums in the employer market -- it's a stable market, and they're related to the underlying changes in health care cost," said
"The places that have high premium increases in the public marketplaces, the high increases are because the premiums for prior years were insufficient to cover the morbidity of the people who enrolled," Claxton said. "Very little of it is actually associated with health cost trend -- it's about getting the pricing to the correct level."
The Kaiser survey put the average annual premium for family coverage in employer plans this year at
This year, a federal health law requirement fully kicked in that requires employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time workers to offer health insurance or pay a penalty. While there have been fears that this so-called "pay or play" requirement would prompt firms to drop benefits and simply pay the fine, the survey results suggest that hasn't happened.
About 56 percent of employers offer health benefits to at least some of their workers this year, which is flat from last year, the survey found. And there's not evidence, researchers said, that employers are reducing workers' hours to avoid the coverage requirement -- another fear related to the health law.
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