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Health insurance now costs American families a record-high of more than $20,000, report finds

Health insurance now costs American families a record-high of more than $20,000, report finds

  • Cost for the average annual family premium rose 5% from last year to $20,576
  • Workers contributed about $6,000, but that doesn’t cover deductibles or co-payments
  • Comparatively, wages and inflation increased 3.4% and 2%, respectively
  • Around 153 million Americans received health insurance from their jobs 

The cost of employer-provided health insurance for a family is now more than $20,000 a year, a new survey finds.

Researchers found that the average cost for an annual family premium rose nearly five percent from last year to $20,576, increasing faster than the growth in wages and inflation.

While employers paid most of the cost, with workers contributing about $6,000, this only covers premiums and not other costs including deductibles or co-payments. 

The majority of Americans under age 65, roughly 153 million people, receive health insurance from their jobs.  

But the authors of the report, from the health research non-profit, the Kaiser Family Foundation, say the rising cost of premiums could force people to choose plans that cover less or forego insurance entirely.

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found the average annual cost for a family rose nearly five percent to $20,576, with workers contributing about $6,000 (file image)

Lagging far behind the five percent growth of insurance premiums, wages and inflation increased 3.4 percent and two percent, respectively. 

In the US, the median household income was $61,822 in 2018, according to the US Census Bureau.

‘The single biggest issue in health care for most Americans is that their health costs are growing much faster than their wages are,’ Drew Altman, chief executive officer of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement. 

‘Costs are prohibitive when workers making $25,000 a year have to shell out $7,000 a year just for their share of family premiums.’  

For the survey, the team recruited 2,000 human resource and benefits managers at firms with at least three workers.

The survey included questions such as the cost of health insurance, coverage, plan type enrollment, premium contributions and prescription drug benefits.

Researchers found 82 percent of workers have a deductible in their plan, an increase from 63 percent just 10 years ago.

However, over the last decade, deductibles have been rising faster than premiums.

For a single person, the average deductible was $1,655 compared to $826 in 2009. 

The survey also found that lower-wage workers, defined as earning $25,000 or less a year, faced some of the greatest challenges when it came to employer-provided insurance.

Among firms that offered benefits, lower-wage employers, on average, were required to contribute about 40 percent toward premiums.

Because workers at lower-wage companies had an annual family contribution of $7,047, fewer employees took up employer health benefits.

‘Employer-sponsored coverage doesn’t come cheap for employers or workers,’ said lead author Gary Claxton, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

‘[M]any who work at low-wage firms or small business likely find it too costly to cover their families.’ 


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