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Group health premium increases modest in 2014: Survey

Group health premium increases modest in 2014: Survey

Group health insurance premiums continue to increase modestly, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

The survey of more than 2,000 employers found that the premium for family coverage rose an average of 3% in 2014, increasing to $16,834.

“The relatively slow growth in premiums this year is good news for employers and workers, though many workers now pay more when they get sick as deductibles continue to rise and skin-in-game insurance gradually becomes the norm,” Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement.

“These findings are positive and reflect a general slowing in health care costs overall,” added Maulik Joshi, president of the Health Research and Educational Trust, which is a unit of the American Hospital Association.

That 3% average increase compares with a 3.8% increase Kaiser found in 2013 and a 4.5% increase in 2012.

Other findings in the Kaiser/HRET survey include:

• Premium costs are considerably higher at larger employers than at smaller organizations. For example, the average premium cost in 2014 for family coverage among larger employers, defined as those with at least 200 employees, was $17,265. That compares with an average premium cost of $15,849 among employers with between three and 199 employees.

• Employees working for smaller companies pay a much greater share of the premium than those working for larger employers. For example, in 2014, employees working at organizations with between three and 199 employees paid an average premium of $5,508 for family coverage, close to $1,000 more compared with the $4,523 average premium employees at larger organizations paid this year.

• The deductible imposed by employers for single coverage averaged $1,217, up from $1,135 in 2013 and $1,097 in 2012.

• The percentage of employers with at least one “grandfathered” health care plan fell to 26% this year, down from 36% in 2013 and 48% in 2012. Under the health care reform law, grandfathered plans are exempt from certain requirements, such as offering full coverage for preventive services. But to qualify for grandfathered status, employers face limitations on how much they can shift funding cost increases to employees through boosts in deductibles and copayments.

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