Employer health insurance premiums increased in US

Premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance increased by 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, and the annual amount that employees pay toward their insurance increased by 63 percent as businesses required employees to contribute a greater share, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report that examines state trends in health insurance costs.

According to the report, State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003-2010: The Need for Action to Address Rising Costs, by 2010, 62 percent of the U.S. population lived in a state where health insurance premiums equaled 20 percent or more of earnings for a middle-income individual under age 65.

The steady rise in costs from 2003 through 2010, before enactment of the Affordable Care Act, points to the urgent need for health insurance market and health care system reforms.”

The analysis of state-by-state trends between 2003 and 2010 finds that premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance increased 50 percent across states, reaching an average of $13,871 a year by 2010. Annual premiums rose in every state, with increases ranging from 33 percent in Idaho to 70 percent in Mississippi.

Premiums ranged from $11,379 to $12,409 in Idaho, Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, and Alabama, the five states with the lowest average costs for private employer-based coverage.

As premium costs have risen, employers have asked employees to contribute more to their health insurance costs by paying a larger share of premiums and accepting higher deductibles.

By 2010, 74 percent of workers faced a deductible, compared to 52 percent in 2003. Average deductibles exceeded $1,000 in 29 states in 2010; in 2003, not one state had an average deductible of more than $1,000.

The authors note that the Affordable Care Act includes a range of insurance market reforms aimed at lowering premium growth, improving health benefits, and ensuring near-universal coverage. These include a set of affordable insurance options available through new state insurance exchanges, rules limiting insurance administrative costs and profits as a share of premiums, and review of excessive insurance premium increases.

Source: Commonwealth Fund, USA



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