Since 1999, premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have risen 131 percent, much faster than inflation (28 percent) and workers' wages (38 percent), according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET).
In the past few years, the annual rise in premiums has been more moderate than the double-digit growth experienced earlier this decade. In 2009, for example, premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $13,375 annually for family coverage, up 5 percent from 2008. On average, employees paid $3,515, and employers paid $9,860 (nearly 74 percent) of the premiums for family coverage.
The survey found that 60 percent of firms offer health benefits to workers in 2009 Among those firms offering benefits, 21 percent report they reduced the scope of health benefits or increased cost sharing due to the economic downturn, and 15 percent report they increased the worker's share of the premium.
"When health care costs continue to rise so much faster than overall inflation in a bad recession, workers and employers really feel the pain. That's why we are having a health reform debate," Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D., said.
The survey found that a growing number of workers who are covered by their employer are facing high deductibles in their plans in addition to contributing to the premiums for their coverage. In 2009, 22 percent of covered workers must pay at least $1,000 out of pocket annually for single coverage before their plan generally will start to pay a share of their healthcare bills, up from 18 percent last year and 10 percent in 2006.
When asked about their plans for next year, 21 percent of employers said they are "very likely" to raise workers' premium contribution next year, and 16 percent said they are "very likely" to raise deductibles.