Kaiser: Employer-sponsored health plan premiums are rising

More than half of U.S. employers are offering their staffers health insurance, according to the 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Employer Health Benefits Survey—but annual family premiums are up 5 percent this year, and premiums for individual coverage rose a similar 3 percent.

Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance reached $19,616 this year, according to the survey, with families paying an average of $5,547 out of pocket for their health coverage. Premiums for single plans rose to $6,896, with workers contributing around $1,186 yearly.

Findings from the survey echo a nearly decades-long trend of “moderate” increases in premiums, something KKF president and CEO Drew Altman said in a release will continue if there isn’t a more substantial hike in worker’s wages. Wages rose by 2.6 percent this year, and premiums have been increasing twice as fast as employees are getting raises.

“Health costs don’t rise in a vacuum,” Altman said. “As long as out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, drugs, surprise bills and more continue to outpace wage growth, people will be frustrated by their medical bills and see health costs as huge pocketbook and political issues.”

For those who do have health insurance through work, the KFF survey suggests deductibles are continuing to rise. Eighty-five percent of covered employees have a deductible in their plan that averages $1,573—up 4 percent from last year. That number might seem modest, but just five years ago deductibles were 15 percent cheaper. In 2008, an employee’s deductible averaged $735.

The survey also found:

  • 74 percent of firms with more than 200 employees are opting to cover telemedicine services, like video consultations and remote monitoring

  • 76 percent of similarly large firms are also covering services offered by retail clinics, like pharmacies and supermarkets

  • 29 percent of firms that offer health benefits offer a high-deductible plan with a savings option

  • 21 percent of large firms that offer health insurance said they collect at least some information from their employees’ mobile apps or wearable devices as part of their wellness programs

  • 70 percent of large firms provide workers with opportunities to complete health risk assessments

  • 57 percent of American employers are offering health insurance to their workers, compared to 53 percent last year and 57 percent five years ago

Find the full survey here.