Health Insurance Premiums Show Sharp Increase in 2011

Health insurance premiums increase leaving consumers and employers to decide how to pay for services.

Including employers’ contributions, the overall premium has increased 113 percent since 2001 to $15,073 a year.

More workers, especially in smaller firms, continue to join high-deductible health plans. Thirty-one percent of covered employees this year have to pay at least $1,000 in single plans before coverage kicks in, up from 27 percent last year.

The survey also highlighted some early results of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform.

Under one of the few provisions already in effect, people under the age of 26 are now allowed to remain covered by their parents’ insurance plans to curb historically high uninsured rates in that age group. The Kaiser survey estimated that U.S. companies have added 2.3 million young adults to their parents’ family health policies.

Companies are shifting more health costs to higher earners

With the costs of health insurance rising, companies are trying to find creative ways to ease the burden for lower wage workers who are getting crushed by higher premiums.

With health care costs climbing even higher during this enrollment season, more employers are adopting a tiered system to pass on the bulk of those costs to their employees by assigning bigger contributions to workers in top salary brackets and offering some relief to workers who make less money.

For years, employees have seen what they pay toward health care go up as companies ask them to contribute more to premiums and deductibles. But now, as people enroll in health plans for the coming year, the sticker shock is more jolting than ever because so many companies are passing on to their workers most, if not all, of the higher costs.

A worker’s share of a family policy is approaching $4,000 a year on average, and is most certainly going to keep on rising through the next few years. For lower-salaried workers, those additional costs have only compounded their struggle in a brutal economy.

More and more companies in the last year or so have begun signaling their recognition of the added burden shouldered by workers in low- and middle-income jobs by varying the premiums they pay based on salary. Consultants say the trend is likely to continue, as employers devise various ways of spreading increased health care costs among their staff and balancing that side of the ledger against fewer raises and other compensation.

It will be interesting to see if the new health care law affects insurance rates over time.

Related Posts