The cost of health insurance for employers and their workers is climbing more slowly, but it’s still inching closer to a day of reckoning.
The cost of premiums for individual workers rose 5 percent in 2013 from the previous year, and the increase was 4 percent for family coverage, according to a survey released today by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.
That’s far from the double-digit premium hikes of a decade ago, but it continues to outpace workers’ wages (an increase of 1.8 percent) and inflation (an increase of 1.1 percent).
The average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance now stands at $5,884 for single coverage and $16,351 for family coverage.
Among all firms, 38 percent of covered workers now have a general annual deductible of at least $1,000, up from 34 percent last year.
While the unfolding Affordable Care Act might have some influence on small businesses’ costs because they’ll be able to shop new plans through newly created online marketplaces, many larger employers are self-insured and thus exempt from many of the law’s requirements, said Gary Claxton, Kaiser vice president.
But Claxton noted that the survey found that 9 percent of large firms (200 or more workers) — and 29 percent of those firms with 5,000 or more workers — are considering offering health benefits through a privately run marketplace, or exchange, in the future.
That would help employers define how much they’re willing to spend on health care, and could create more incentives for their workers to get their care from lower-cost providers.
“The potential is for employers to move a little bit away from running their own programs,” Claxton said.
By Ben Sutherly - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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