Health insurance cost-shifting expected to accelerate in 2010

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Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to an average $13,375 annually for family coverage and $4,824 for single coverage in 2009, and employers are likely to pass even more of the cost to employees this year, according to an annual benchmark survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

On average, covered employees contribute 17% of the total premium for their single coverage and 27% for their family coverage.

Among employers offering benefits, 21% reported they’ve already reduced the scope of health benefits or increased cost sharing due to the economic downturn. When asked about their plans for 2010, another 21% of employers said they are “very likely” to raise workers’ premium contributions.

“As in the past, we’re seeing many businesses struggling with ways to curb their health care costs, including offering high-deductible plans for workers, though relatively few (only 2%) expect to drop health benefits altogether,” said Kaiser VP Gary Claxton.

Premiums for family coverage rose about 5% in 2009. At the same time, wages went up by 3.1%. Since 1999, premiums have risen by 131% (see box below).

To read the full Kaiser study of 3,200 employers, go to http://ehbs.kff.org.

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