Family health insurance costs up 62 percent since 2003

The total cost of family health insurance, for both employers and employees, hit $15,000 last year, up 62 percent since 2003 -- and worker wages rose only 11 percent in that time, a new Commonwealth Fund report says.

Kaiser Health News: Health Cost Bite To Family Budgets Sinks Deeper
The price of commercial health insurance has risen five times faster than family incomes since 2003 even as the financial security it offers has shrunk, says a new Commonwealth Fund report that underscores how medicine is consuming bigger and bigger parts of the private economy. ... The average total cost of family health insurance -- employer and employees' shares -- hit $15,022 last year, up 62 percent since 2003, while the median family income rose only 11 percent during the same period, the report said. If that trend continues, premiums for family coverage will come close to $25,000 by 2020 (Hancock, 12/12).

Modern Healthcare: Worker's Spending On Health Premiums Surges 74% in 8 Years
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 health care 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 percent from 2003. Meanwhile, the average family premium totaled $15,022, an increase of 62 percent from 2003, the report said. "It's real money," said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund (Evans, 12/12).

NBC: Health insurance: U.S. Paying More For Less, Report Finds
Health insurance premiums have shot up more than 60 percent in the last eight years, and if they keep up at this pace the average family of four will be paying $25,000 a year just for health insurance, according to a report released Wednesday. At the same time, deductibles are also going up for employer-sponsored plans, so workers are paying more and more for less and less, the non-profit Commonwealth Fund said. "Workers are paying more for less financial protection when they get sick," said Commonwealth Fund senior vice president Cathy Schoen, who led the team writing the report (Fox, 12/12).

Meanwhile, Aetna and organized medicine reached a settlement regarding out-of-network providers --

Medscape: $120 Million Aetna Settlement Creates Physician Payday
Thousands of physicians stand to collect some cash from a proposed $120 million settlement that Aetna reached last week with organized medicine, Aetna beneficiaries, and other plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over rates paid to out-of-network providers. The pay-out will range from a few hundred dollars to possibly $5000 or more, depending on how physicians choose to participate in the settlement, which awaits approval from a federal district judge in Newark, New Jersey. The plaintiffs in the case, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and 10 state medical societies, accused the giant insurer of systematically underpaying physicians and other clinicians who were out-of-network providers. Such providers are entitled to the lesser of either their billed charges or the "usual, customary, and reasonable" (UCR) fee for the particular service rendered (Lowes, 12/11).

In related coverage --

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Options For Patients Who Get Out-Of-Network Care (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader question about handling an out-of-network bill from a provider the patient didn't choose (12/11).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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