Health insurance costs skyrocketing

Posted: September 27, 2011

The cost of health insurance skyrocketed in 2011 after several years of relatively small increases.

Prices rose 9 percent for family coverage, with the average family premium reaching $15,073 and employees picking up $4,129 of that cost. Last year, family premium prices rose three percent.

"This year's nine percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," said Drew Altman, president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in California, in a statement.

The Kaiser foundation, along with the Chicago-based Health Research and Educational Trust, conduct an annual survey on employer benefits.

The insurance premium increase far outstrips the 2.1 percent increase in workers' wages and the 3.2 percent increase in the general inflation rate.

Tuesday's survey was the first to reflect the influence of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010. About 2.3 million young people gained coverage because of the new law.

The average cost of a single worker's plan is $5,429 with workers paying $921 toward the premium.

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

More and more workers are enrolled in high deductible health plans. In 2005, these plans barely existed and now 17 percent of employees are enrolled in them.

Twelve percent of those enrolled in high deductible plans face a deductible of $2,000 or more for single coverage. Half employed in small firms pay more than $1,000.

In 1988, two-thirds of all large firms offered health benefits to retirees. In 2011, it's barely one in four.

Even though the average family premium is about $15,000, coverage for one in five families tops $18,087.

For full survey results see:

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, at or @JaneVonBergen on Twitter.


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