Report: Premiums soar 50% nationwide for family coverage

A new Commonwealth Fund report finds that premiums for family coverage increased 50 percent from 2003 to 2010. The analysis essentially confirms a national trend of more premiums for fewer benefits that's been shown in other surveys of employer-sponsored insurance, according to the Washington Post.

The total cost of insuring a family reached an average $13,871 a year by 2010. If premiums continue rising at that rate, the average family premium would escalate to nearly $24,000 by 2020, according to the report.

Mississippians saw the highest premium increases, with family premiums soaring 70 percent. People in Idaho, on the other hand, saw only a 33 percent increase in premiums. In all states, insurance premiums rose faster than incomes.

There was little correlation between a state's average premiums and its cost of living; for example, states with lower-than-average incomes such as New Mexico and West Virginia had some of the highest premiums in the nation. Instead, it seems the variation was caused by a range of factors, including how generous employers' plans were in any given state, the Post notes.

However, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) says focusing on premiums disregards other underlying factors behind healthcare spending. Those factors include "soaring prices for medical services, changes in the risk pool with younger people dropping their coverage and new benefit and coverage mandates," AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach told Bloomberg.

To learn more:
- read the Commonwealth Fund study (.pdf)
- check out the Washington Post article
- read the Bloomberg article