The Kaiser Family Foundation Report on Health Care Coverage

By September 17, 2012Commentary

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released an annual survey of Employer Health Benefits for 14 years, and the 2012 version just came out.   (KFF Report)   It is chock full of very useful data and charts.  The headline numbers relate to the rate of growth in health insurance premiums and employee cost-sharing.  The average annual premium for single coverage is $5,615, a 3% rise, and for family coverage it was $15,745  a 4% increase.  Over a ten year period, from 2002 til now, family premiums have gone from $8,003 to $15,745, a 97% increase, while the employee contribution to that premium has risen from 2,137 to $4316, a 102% growth rate.  For comparison, wages grew only 33% in that time period and inflation only 28%.  So families truly are getting hammered by the increase in health care costs.  PPO coverage is the most expensive and high-deductible plans the least.  Employees in small firms, less than 200 workers, contribute less for single coverage than do workers in large companies, but more for family coverage.   PPOs have the most covered persons, about 56%, and high deductible plans, after rapid growth in recent years, were relatively flat in 2012 at 19% of covered persons.

The majority of employees now have an annual deductible in their plan, with higher deductibles more common among small firms.  In 2012, 34% of covered workers had a deductible of at least $1000 for single coverage.  About 73% of workers have a copayment for office visits, averaging around $25.  Copayments for ER visits and drugs are also very common.  A minority of employees, between 15% and 20%, have coinsurance instead of copayments on these services.  Cost-sharing for hospital admissions and surgery center use are also becoming more common and increasing.  A large majority of workers have an out-of-pocket maximum in their health coverage.  Only 61% of companies offer health benefits, but almost all large employers do, so the percent of workers with access to health cvoerage is quite high.  The number of companies offering retiree health benefits continues to diminish.  Wellness programs are offered by a large number of employees, along with financial incentives or penalties.  Biometric measures are becoming more common.  Finally, 54% of firms said they shopped for a new or additional plan and 18% actually changed their carrier.

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