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Family Health-Care Deductibles Increase by 29 Percent

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Thursday, September 25, 2008 2:36 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace, Health Care Costs, Health Care Insurance


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto / medical solutions / author: gmutlu

Workers are forced to shoulder higher health care costs as more employers want larger out-of-pocket payments from employees before their insurance policies start, according to a newly released study.

Premiums for employee-sponsored health care plans increased to $12,680 for family coverage in 2008- with employees paying an average of $3,354 out of pocket to cover their share – and the range of coverage has also changed, with more workers currently enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans.

Annual deductibles, which refer to the amount employee’s pay for medical care out of their own pocket before their insurance coverage kicks in – increased an average of 29% to $1,543 for those with family coverage.

For single workers, annual deductibles increased an average of 21% this year to $560.

The survey found that the overall cost of insurance premiums increased a modest 5% in 2008, the smallest increase since 1999.

The study was conducted by the non-partisan group, Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care policy and the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), a copartner of the American Hospital Association, which studies health care issues.

The survey which included 1,927 employers found that 18% of insured employees pay an average of $1,000 out of pocket before their health care coverage starts – a boost from 12% in 2007.

For those companies that have less than 200 employees, 35% extend coverage with deductibles of $1,000 or more, up from 21% last year.

“Even modest growth in insurance deductibles and premiums can result in financial strife for many working families, especially when coupled with high gas and food costs. Rising health care costs are a burden on employers as well, particularly small business owners,” said HRET Interim President John Combes, M.D.

The Kaiser/HRET survey shows a detailed analysis of how employer coverage is evolving in terms of cost, availability and coverage. The survey was compiled between January and May 2008, involving 2,832 randomly selected, non-federal private and public firms with three or more employees. 1,927 of which replied to the survey in full and 905 of which replied to a single question about offering coverage.

“With the rising costs of deductibles, more people are faced with substantial out of pocket fees for their plans, before their coverage fully kicks in,” Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D., said. “Health insurance is becoming less and less comprehensive. Is it really any wonder that in today’s tough economic climate many families consider health care costs a main financial issue?”

Two studies released Wednesday say the financial burden of unpaid medical bills is taxing working families.

The studies, also by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Studying Health System Change do not address the current financial melt-down as they were completed before the recent $700 billion bailout of the financial sector. #

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