Health Insurance Costs Up Sharply

Business owners who offer health-care coverage are really “paying for it.”

Employers are paying more toward their workers' health-care premiums than ever before, as prices increased 9% over the past year. The premiums for family health-care coverage have grown to an average of $15,073, with employers footing more than $10,000 of the cost, according to a recent survey.

The Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey, released Tuesday, found that workers pay $4,129 toward the premium and employers foot the $10,944 remainder. Single policy health coverage prices also increased by 8%, the survey found, to $5,429 per year. Under this coverage, employees pay $921 toward the plan.

"This year’s 9% increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D. said.

The report was conducted between January and May 2011 and randomly surveyed 3,184 public and private firms with at least two employees.

The survey found that these premiums are climbing at a faster rate than wages [2.1%] and general inflation [3.2%], hitting employers hard during a time when many are struggling with the slow economic recovery.

Some impacts of the Affordable Care Act are also becoming more clear, with the survey reporting that 2.3 million young adults under age 26 have been added to their parents' family health insurance policies under the act.

Additionally, more than half [56%] of covered workers are in "grandfathered" plans under health-care reform, meaning these plans are exempted from some new requirements including "covering preventive benefits with no cost sharing and having an external appeals process," the survey reported.