Health insurance costs rising faster than wages & inflation

Health insurance costs are rising much faster than wages and inflation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey.

The survey found the average family health insurance premium increased by 9% in 2011, costing more than $15,000 per year. The premium for single coverage rose 8% in the past year, with the average cost at $5,429 for individuals per year. During that time, workers’ wages rose by only 2.1% and general inflation was measured at 3.1%.

“This year’s nine percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak economy,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D.

On the macro level, family health premium has increased 113%, from $7,061 in 2001 to $15,073 in 2011, during the past decade, and worker contributions to health care costs increased by 131% during that period.

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. The Kaiser survey found that employers are starting to shift more of the health care costs to employees through high-deductible health plans. In 2011, 17% of covered workers were enrolled in high-deductible health plans compared to just 8% in 2009. Under such plans, workers are expected to pay at least $1,000 in deductible for single coverage and $2,000 for family coverage.

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