Monday, December 7, 2009

Employers Still Paying Most of Healthcare Premiums

I saw a recent survey that told me what I knew already: that even as employers seek to reduce costs, they still continue to pay most of the premium cost of their employees’ health care insurance.

That’s what the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Education and Research Trust (HRET) say in the 2009 version of their annual snapshot of employee health benefits, which just came out.

The study found that premiums on average rose about 5% across the country over the past year, and now stand at $13,375 per year for family coverage. Individual coverage now averages $4,824 per year across the country. Since 1999, the cost for family coverage nationally has soared by 131%.

Even as premiums continue to outpace overall inflation, employers are standing by their traditional commitment to help employees pay for health care insurance. Employers now pay about 73% of the cost of the premium for family coverage, the same percentage as in 1999. Employers currently pay about 83% of the premium for individual coverage, according to Kaiser and HRET.

And it looks as if employers on the whole are committed to holding the line on employee costs as much as possible. When asked for their plans for the coming year, only 21% of employers offering health care insurance said they were very likely to raise their employees’ contribution and only 16% were very likely to raise the deductible.

The survey reports that offering health care insurance remains a challenge to the very smallest businesses. Only 47% of businesses with 3-9 employees offer health care benefits, compared to 72% of firms with 10-24 employees, 87% of firms with 25-49 employees and 95% of firms with more than 50 employees. These numbers demonstrate that a lot of people in the work force remain uninsured. Health care reform similar to what the insurance industry is proposing would do a lot to address that challenge.

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