Sept. 15--Families who have health insurance coverage through an employer continue to see their yearly deductibles increasing, even as the monthly premiums they pay show only modest growth.
A national survey of more than 1,900 employers released Wednesday found that 83 percent of covered workers now face an average deductible of $1,478 for single coverage.
That's $159 more, or a 12 percent increase, over 2015's average deductible and $486 more since 2011, a 49 percent increase. Also, 83 percent of covered workers now pay a deductible, which represents the amount that families will pay for care before their plan coverage kicks in. That compares with 74 percent five years ago.
Annual premiums for those plans, meanwhile, rose an average of 3 percent to $18,412, which the survey authors said marks "the fifth straight year of relatively low premium growth."
Drew Altman, president and CEO of Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, Calif., said the survey shows a gradual shift among employers from providing comprehensive coverage plans to offering plans with "skimpier" coverage while shifting more of the cost to employees.
Workers at firms with fewer than 200 employees are hit particularly hard, with deductibles averaging $2,069 annually, compared with $1,238 for employees at larger firms.
Overall, 56 percent of the employers surveyed said they offer health benefits to at least some of their workers although that figure dropped to 46 percent among smaller firms.
The Kaiser foundation conducted the 18th annual survey jointly with the American Hospital Association-affiliated Health Research and Educational Trust in Chicago. Both are private, nonprofit organizations that do research and analysis on major health issues.
In a media briefing, Mr. Altman said overall health cost increases have slowed, which he attributed primarily to the economy's sluggish recovery and the cost shift to employees "both of which suppress utilization."
Earlier this week, a Mercer survey showed employers were expecting per-employee health benefit costs to increase by 4 percent next year, but many said they plan to raise deductibles or switch insurance carriers to control their costs.
Steve Twedt: [email protected] or 412-263-1963.
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