Health insurance premiums up 73 percent in last 10 years

Premiums for employee-based family health insurance plans increased 73 percent from 2003 to 2013, and employer contributions to those plans jumped 93 percent, according to new research from the Commonwealth Fund.

The premium for family coverage averaged $9,249 in 2003 and $16,029 last year. As a share of median income, this rose from 15 percent 11 years ago to 23 percent in 2013, Commonwealth found.

Deductibles are both more prevalent and more expensive as well. More than eight in 10 employer-sponsored health plans had a deductible in 2013, compared to just five in 10 back in 2003. The average family plan deductible more than doubled in that time, too, from $1,079 to $2,491. This is troubling--as FierceHealthPayer previously reported, high deductibles cause Americans to delay medical care.

Not all the news is bad, however. The average rate of increase for both premiums and deductibles has decreased since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010, according to the research summary. Deductibles went up more than 10 percent per year from 2003 to 2010 but only went up 7.5 percent after that, while the rate of increase for premiums dropped from 5.1 percent in 2003-2010 to 4.1 percent in 2010-2013.

The "Cadillac tax" on high-priced employer plans, which goes into effect in 2017, should help keep premium growth down. That said, it's too soon to tell if the historically low growth rate in healthcare spending will continue, according to the research, especially if the larger economic recovery also continues in stride.

"The challenge to policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders will be to continue to pursue efforts to contain healthcare cost growth, while ensuring that savings are shared with patients and their families," the report said.

For more:
read the Commonwealth Fund summary and report (.pdf)

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