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Family health premiums up just 4% this year

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Annual premiums for employer-provided family health coverage rose a relatively modest 4% this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Family premiums averaged $16,351 for the 2013 plan year, with employees paying $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage.

The foundation’s 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey called the premium increase “moderate by historical standards.” Since 2003, premiums have increased 80%, far more than wages (31%) and inflation (27%).

“We are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.

Low-wage workers—earning less than $23,000—pay relatively more for family health coverage. The survey found that in organizations where at least 35% of employees earn low wages, workers pay $1,363 more toward family premiums than workers at better-paying firms.

Lower-wage firms tend to offer less costly coverage too, so low-wage employees wind up paying 39% of premiums, compared to 29% for workers in better-paying firms.

Kaiser found that small employers are shifting more health care costs to employees. At small firms, 58% of workers must meet deductibles of at least $1,000, compared to 38% for employees of larger companies. Thirty-one percent of employees at small firms face deductibles of at least $2,000, up from 12% in 2008.

The average deductible now stands at $1,135, up $38 from 2012.

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