Employer-Sponsored Coverage Premiums Up Slightly, Survey Finds
Businesses increasingly are shifting more health care costs onto their employees, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey, the AP/Washington Times reports (Murphy, AP/Washington Times, 9/22).
For the survey, KFF and the Health Research & Educational Trust polled 1,997 employers between January and June. Companies were categorized by two sizes:
- Small firms, with three to 199 workers; and
- Large firms, with 200 or more workers (KFF 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey, 9/22).
According to the survey, premiums for employer-sponsored health plans rose modestly this year, with average annual premiums for:
- Individual plans increasing by 4%, to $6,251; and
- Family plans increasing by 4%, to $17,545.
According to Modern Healthcare, employers covered 83% of the cost for individual premiums and 72% of the costs for family plan premiums.
While premiums grew only slightly, deductibles and the number of employees enrolled in high-deductible health plans increased at a more rapid pace, the survey found. According to the survey, about 24% of workers with employer-sponsored coverage were enrolled in high-deductible plans with health savings accounts in 2015, up from 20% in 2014 and just 4% in 2006 (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 9/22).
Meanwhile, the average deductible for health plans among all workers with employer-sponsored coverage reached $1,077 this year, compared with $646 in 2010 and just $303 in 2006 (KFF 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey, 9/22).
Among individual plans, the average annual deductible was $1,318 in 2015, compared with $1,217 last year and $917 in 2010 (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 9/22). Employees at small businesses had average deductibles of about $1,800 annually.
Further, the survey found that:
- One in five workers had a deductible of $2,000 or more (Abelson, New York Times, 9/22); and
- 46% of workers with individual health plans had deductibles of at least $1,000.
KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said the increase in deductibles has helped to rein in premium growth for the last few years (AP/Washington Times, 9/22).
Employers Preparing for 'Cadillac Tax'
Meanwhile, the survey also found that some employers are starting to make changes to their health benefits ahead of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's so-called "Cadillac tax," which is scheduled to take effect in 2018, CQ HealthBeat reports (Young, CQ HealthBeat, 9/22).
Under the ACA, employers that offer health plans with annual premiums of more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families will pay a 40% excise tax on the portion of the premiums that exceeds those thresholds (California Healthline, 8/25).
According to the survey, 13% of large firms said they have made changes to their employee health plans to avoid reaching the tax threshold. For example, 8% of large firms said they switched to a lower-cost plan (CQ HealthBeat, 9/22).
Meanwhile, 53% of large firms said they have conducted analyses to determine what effect, if any, the tax would have (Modern Healthcare, 9/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.