If you feel like more money is coming out of your paycheck to cover health insurance costs these days – you’re not alone. A new survey of employer health benefits by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests companies are passing more of the costs of employee health care back onto workers.
While politicians have been embroiled in a fiery debate over President Obama’s signature health-care law, a quiet but profound shift is fundamentally reshaping how health insurance works for the roughly 155 million Americans who receive coverage through their employers.
A national survey of employer health benefits released Wednesday shows how much deductibles — the health-care costs that people must pay out of their own pockets before insurance kicks in — have shot up. In 2016, 4 in 5 workers had a deductible as part of their individual coverage, averaging $1,478. During the past five years, deductibles have grown 10 times as fast as inflation and nearly six times as fast as wages, according to the new report.
The days of a $200 deductible are long gone for many of us. Bloomberg.com reported, “About 50 percent of employees are in plans that have deductibles of at least $1,000 for individual coverage, up from 45 percent in 2015. Rising deductibles have entered the spotlight recently because they push more of the costs and responsibilities of getting treatment onto consumers.”
Employers’ efforts to stem cost increases are the major driver behind the shift, said Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation. High-deductible plans typically have significantly lower premiums than other types of plans. “Practically, it’s a step they can take to keep their costs down,” he said.
CNN wrote, “The average family plan cost $18,142 this year, up 3.4% from 2015, the study found. That’s faster than both wages (up 2.5%) and inflation (up 1.1%). The infographic below shows how much premiums have gone up for both workers and employers over the past 10 years.
National Public Radio quoted Dave Anderson, CEO of HealthNow Inc., which runs BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York to help pit some perspective on what these numbers mean in real terms – “A $1,000 deductible if you’re making $100,000 is no big deal. If you’re making $30,000 a year, a $1,000 deductible is a big deal. In the future, Anderson says he expects employers and insurance companies will have to address that inherent unfairness by offering health plans with deductibles indexed to workers’ income.”
Let us know what you think about these numbers and what it means to the people living in your community. Working together to address the health issues facing the people of Arizona will help us take another step toward our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!