Employer-sponsored plan premiums rose modestly this year, but those modest increases continued to outpace inflation and wage growth, and a growing share of employees were required to pay deductibles before their coverage kicked in, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released Tuesday.
The survey data are based on responses from 2,160 U.S. employers from January to July.
According to the report, premiums for employer-sponsored health plans continued to grow modestly in 2018, with the average premium rising by 3% for a single plan and by 5% for a family plan. However, the reported noted those modest increases continued to outpace growth of workers' wages, which rose by 2.6%, and inflation, which rose by 2.5%.
Overall, the report found the average annual premium for employer-sponsored coverage in 2018 is $19,616 for a family plan and $6,896 for a single plan.
According to the report, the amount of premiums employees were responsible for remained relatively flat this past year, with employees on average paying about $1,200, or 18% of their premium costs, for a single health plan and $5,547 for a family plan, or 28% of the plan's premium costs. According to the report, the average dollar amount employees in family plans pay toward their premiums is up by 21% since 2013 and 65% since 2008.
Employees face greater cost-sharing
The report also found the percentage of employer-sponsored plan enrollees who are required to pay a share of their health care costs before their coverage kicks in rose to 85% in 2018, up from 81% in 2017. Employees can face different types of cost sharing, including deductibles and copayments or coinsurance for office visits and hospitalizations.
The report found the size of the average deductible among all covered workers is up from $1,221 in 2017 to $1,350 in 2018. The average deductible has risen by 53% over the past five years.
Among workers enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, the average deductible was $2,349 in 2018. According to the report, 29% of employer-sponsored plan enrollees had a high-deductible health plan.
The report found workers in small firms tend to face the highest deductibles. The report found 42% of workers in small firms had a deductible of at least $2,000, compared with 20% of covered workers in large firms. The average deductible for a single health plan among workers at small companies is $2,132, compared with $1,355 among large firm employees.
Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, "The data don't suggest a new urgency or a new crisis for employer health care costs; they are more of an ongoing chronic headache" (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 10/3; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 10/3; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 10/4; Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 10/2).
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