Health insurance premiums rose an average of 6.1% in 2007, the slowest rate of growth in eight years but still a higher rate than inflation or workers wages, putting the squeeze on employers and families, according to the ninth annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey on employer-sponsored plans.
The average annual premium for family coverage this year is $12,106, with workers contributing $3,281 for the policy. Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78%, while wages have risen 19% and inflation by 17%, according to the survey.
A family will pay on average $1,500 more in 2007 than six years ago for health insurance premiums. Cost-sharing between workers and employers did not change significantly since last year.
Health insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable for more and more families and employers, said Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which produced the survey with the Health Research and Educational Trust and the journal Health Affairs.
Although businesses want novel ways to reduce costs, consumer-driven health plans have made only small inroads into the employer market, covering about 5% of insured workers, essentially the same as last year, the survey found.
The annual Employer Health Benefits Survey, conducted between January and May, included 3,078 randomly selected, nonfederal public and private companies with three or more employees.
In an unrelated study in Health Affairs, economists Mark Pauly and José Pagán at the University of Texas found that insured adults who live in communities with high proportions of uninsured people were less likely to get access to care, compared with their peers in communities with low rates of uninsured. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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