Premiums Up 4% to $22k Even Though Fewer Used Health Insurance: Report

The COVID-19 pandemic has done what just about nothing else could — slowed the amount that individuals and families are responsible for when it comes to their healthcare expenses, according to data released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The data, which offers a benchmark of employer health benefits, revealed that workers are contributing $5,969 toward the cost of family coverage, while the total premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 4% to $22,221. The 4% increase is in line with annual increases in workers’ wages (5%) and inflation (2%), but when assessed over the long-term, the data is less favorable. Going back to 2011, premiums have increased 47%, while wages have increased 31% and inflation has increased 19%.

Nearly one-third of employers that participated in the survey said that utilization of healthcare insurance by their employees was less than expected, corresponding to an overall decrease in total health spending during the pandemic.

“In a year when the pandemic continued to cause health and economic disruption, there were only modest changes in the cost of employer-provided health benefits,” said Gary Claxton, a KFF senior vice president and director of the Health Care Marketplace Project, in a statement. “Some employers adapted their plans to address mental health and other challenges facing their workers due to COVID-19.”

The average deductible remained largely unchanged this year, clocking in at $1,669, compared with $1,644 in 2020 and $1,655 in 2019. That figure is still well up from $991 in 2011, according to KFF’s data. Eighty-four percent of workers had a deductible this year, up from 74% a year ago.

Overall, 59% of the employers surveyed said they offered some form of health benefits, with 99% of employers that have at least 200 employees doing so. Only 56% of companies with fewer than 50 employees offered health insurance. Cost is generally cited as the reason why most small companies don’t offer health insurance.

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