Although premiums have increased fairly modestly in recent years, the growth has far outpaced workers’ raises over time. The average family premium has increased 55% since 2008, twice as fast as workers’ wages and three times as fast as inflation, Kaiser’s Employer Health Benefits Survey found.
Companies pick up most of the tab, shelling out $14,100 a year, on average. Still, workers have to pay an average of $5,550, up 65% from a decade ago.
For single coverage, total premiums have reached $6,900, on average, up 47% from 2008. Workers contribute roughly $1,200 a year.
Deductibles also continue to burn a deeper hole in workers’ pockets. The average deductible now stands at $1,350, up 212% since 2008. That’s eight times faster than wage growth.
Also, more workers are subject to deductibles — some 85% in 2018, compared to 59% a decade ago. A quarter of all workers face deductibles of at least $2,000, up from 15% five years ago.
“As long as out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, drugs, surprise bills and more continue to outpace wage growth, people will be frustrated by their medical bills and see health costs as huge pocketbook and political issues,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s president.
While employers have been trying to rein in health care costs for years, the issue has come into the spotlight once again.
Some employers are looking to limit their networks to certain high-quality providers, which allows them to lower costs. Some 11% of companies said they’ve implemented these performance-based networks, up from 3% in 2014, according to a survey released earlier this year by PwC, a consulting firm. Another 34% of firms said they were considering these networks.
More large companies are offering coverage for telemedicine visits with providers, such as through videoconferencing or remote monitoring. The share skyrocketed to 74% this year, up from 27% in 2015, according to the Kaiser study.
Employees, however, have yet to embrace the new technology. Only 0.51% of those in large employer plans had at least one telemedicine visit in 2016, the latest data available.
“Lots of companies are paying for telemedicine, but very few employees are using it,” said Matthew Rae, senior health policy analyst at Kaiser.