The cost of employee health insurance grew faster than income in every state, an analysis of data from 2003 to 2011 shows, and health benefits increasingly failed to protect workers from the cost of getting injured or ill.
The analysis of health insurance in the workplace by the health policy foundation the Commonwealth Fund underscored the financial strain on household and business budgets from the country's rising healthcare costs. Fast-growing premiums outpaced wages, the report said, and have "been consuming resources that employers might otherwise have earmarked for salary or wage increases, for other benefits or for hiring additional workers."
A worker, on average, spent $3,962 on family premiums in 2011, an increase of 74% from 2003. Meanwhile, the average family premium totaled $15,022, an increase of 62% from 2003, the report said. "It's real money," said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, should help slow the growth in premiums and overall health spending, Schoen said. She cited provisions that increase health insurance oversight; expand access with insurance subsidies; create health insurance exchanges to pool individual and small-business consumers; and nurture new payment models to reduce waste and improve quality. The law also includes limits on out-of-pocket spending and a cap on benefits.