Health Premiums Up, But Modestly

Aug 20, 2013

A lot of Americans get their health insurance from their job. And according to a new study, the price of that insurance went up by about four percent last year. A new report finds that annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,300 this year -- up four percent over last year.

Drew Altman runs the Kaiser Family Foundation, a co-author of the report. He says that a four percent increase may sound like a lot. But only until you think back a few years. "If you remember the many years of startling double-digit increases...,you also remember the doom and gloom and not moderation was always the language associated with healthcare costs."

The survey was of about 2,000 small and large employers. And as modest as the growth in premiums may be, it still far outpaces the growth in wages and inflation. In fact since 2003, premiums have gone up three times as fast. So Altman says it's easy to understand why the public may think the increase represents a huge hike. "There's no question that this is a year with a very moderate premium increase. Very moderate. But I suppose you can't blame the public if that's the perception they have."

The survey also showed that companies with lots of low-wage workers require them to pay more for their health insurance than with fewer low-wage workers. "It just underscores that lower-wage working people struggle in this economy and that's true when it comes to their health coverage, too." You can read more about the study at kff.org.