Workers Spending More on Health Care, Commonwealth Fund Finds
Employees' average spending on health insurance premiums and deductibles in 2013 represented 9.6% of the median U.S. household income, up from 8.4% in 2010 and 5.3% in 2003, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
For the report, researchers analyzed out-of-pocket costs compared with median incomes for individuals under age 65 for employees in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. (Siegel Bernard, New York Times, 1/8). The researchers defined out-of-pocket costs as employees' share of premiums in addition to their plan's deductible (Commonwealth Fund report, 1/7). The calculation did not include other types of costs, such as copayments or coinsurance.
The report found that average premiums went up at a faster rate than median incomes for employees under age 65 in every state from 2003 to 2013. According to the report, average premiums for employer-sponsored plans were 20% of median incomes or higher in 2013 in 37 states, compared with in two states in 2003 (New York Times, 1/8).
Researchers also found that about 80% of employees had a high-deductible plan in 2013, compared with about 50% in 2003. In addition, the average deductible of employee health plans increased by 159% to $1,169 over the time period (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 1/8).
Overall the report found that the combined employee premium and deductible was more than 10% of individuals' median income in 17 states in 2013 (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
However, the report also found that average premiums and deductibles increases had "slowed markedly" from 2010 to 2013 (Modern Healthcare, 1/8). Specifically, average annual premium increases declined for individual employer-sponsored plans from an average increase of 5.1% from 2003 to 2010 to an average increase of 4.1% from 2010 to 2013 (New York Times, 1/8). In addition, average premiums for family employer-sponsored plan increased by 6% per year between 2003 and 2010, compared with 4.9% annually from 2010 to 2013.
The report also found that the percentage of the premium paid by the employee increased annually by 5.9% on average between 2010 and 2013, compared with an average of 7.2% annually between 2003 and 2010.
The authors wrote that, overall, "Workers are paying more but getting less protective benefits." They added, "Although the [ACA] offers a platform from which to build, securing a more affordable future will likely require action beyond those reforms, focusing on costs of care, particularly for the privately insured" (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).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.