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Kaiser Study: Health Insurance Costs Still Eclipsing Wage, Inflation Growth

By    |   Thursday, 22 August 2013 08:18 AM

Annual premiums for the average American family's employer-sponsored health insurance now exceed $16,000 for the first time, and workers pay an average of $4,565 toward meeting that cost, not counting co-payments and deductibles, a new survey reveals.

The 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust found more than a third of workers have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 before their insurance takes effect, and wages continue to grow more slowly than health insurance costs.

The cost of a single employee's premiums rose an average of 5 percent this year, while wages increased by only 1.8 percent and general inflation rose 1.1 percent, the study said.

Editor’s Note:
Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’ (See Shocking Video)

"Over time, what people pay for healthcare has dramatically eclipsed both their wages and inflation," said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The survey found health premiums are up 196 percent since 1999, with worker contributions growing 182 percent during that time. Wages have increased only an average of 50 percent in the same period.

One bright spot in the study was its finding that 35 percent of employers are enthusiastic about wellness programs, which they consider an effective strategy for controlling costs. Wellness programs include financial incentives for workers who meet goals for weight, blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar.

Under Obamacare, employers will be allowed to increase those financial incentives from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage.

Federal subsidies under Obamacare will give low-to-moderate income Americans a break on their premiums, CNNMoney reported.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated 48 percent of Americans who buy individual insurance today could receive subsidies worth an average of $5,548, which would cover 66 percent of the price.

"The subsidies are pretty large for the people who get them," said Gary Claxton, vice president at Kaiser.

Americans earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is up to $45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four, will be eligible for a subsidy.

However, even with government subsidies, the price tag for health coverage under Obamacare could still be tough for lower-income Americans, according to CNNMoney.

"For a lot of people who are barely making the rent and struggling to pay for groceries, even a very modest premium can seem out of reach," said Sabrina Corlette, senior research fellow at Georgetown's Health Policy Institute.

Editor’s Note: Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’ (See Shocking Video)

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Annual premiums for the average American family's employer-sponsored health insurance now exceed $16,000 for the first time, and workers pay an average of $4,565 toward meeting that cost, not counting co-payments and deductibles, a new survey reveals.
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Thursday, 22 August 2013 08:18 AM
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