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Family of four health insurance tops $25,000 a year in costs

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The cost of family coverage offered through employers' health plans is expected to rise only modestly this year, but that still will push the average cost past $25,000, Milliman Inc. said Tuesday.

The total cost of coverage for a family of four under an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization plan — including premiums and employees' out-of-pocket expenses — rose 4.7% to an average of $25,886, Seattle-based Milliman said it in its annual “Milliman Medical Index” report.

While that is the smallest percentage gain in the history of the analysis that began in 2001, the $1,155 increase is the 11th consecutive year that the annual increase has exceeded $1,100, according to the consulting and actuarial firm.

Surpassing $25,000 a year for family coverage is “a significant and somewhat unsettling milestone,” Chris Girod, a San Diego based Milliman principal and consulting actuary, said in a statement.

The report attributed much of this year's increase in overall health plan costs to a 9.1% jump in prescription drug costs. At an average of $4,270 per family, prescription drugs account for about 17% of the total cost of coverage. In contrast, all other health care services increased just 3.8%, Milliman said.

Employers paid just over 57%, or $14,793, of health plan costs this year, according to the analysis. Employees paid an average of $6,717 in premium contributions and $4,316 in out-of-pocket expenses, such as for health care services that fall under their plans' deductibles.