Employer-sponsored health insurance becoming less affordable, study says

Employer-sponsored health insurance becoming less affordable, study says
Annual family premiums rose 5 percent to roughly $20,600 this year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. Employers pay about $14,600 of that. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Workers are paying an average of just over $6,000 per year toward their health insurance coverage, as costs continue to rise faster than wages, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

New data released Wednesday in Kaiser’s annual employer health benefits study shows that employer-sponsored health coverage is getting less affordable. The survey includes upwards of 2,000 interviews with nonfederal public and private firms.

Annual family premiums rose 5 percent to roughly $20,600 this year, Kaiser found. Employers pay about $14,600 of that.

Deductibles stayed roughly flat at an average of $1,655 for single coverage, but that’s up from an average of $826 a decade ago.

The cost of insurance coverage has risen far faster than earnings or inflation over the past decade. Family premiums have increased 54 percent, and workers’ contributions have jumped 71 percent. By contrast, wages are up 26 percent and inflation 20 percent.

"The single biggest issue in health care for most Americans is that their health costs are growing much faster than their wages are," said Drew Altman, Kaiser's chief executive.

The share of Americans covered by employer polices has been drifting downward over the past two decades, and according to a recent US Census Bureau report, the share covered by private insurance has not statistically changed.

This indicates low-income people are not landing positions with benefits.

Only one in three employees at lower-wage firms are likely to be enrolled in employer-based health plans, compared to 63 percent of workers at other companies. They are also less likely to be eligible and are forced to pay more for their plans.

The 2020 Democratic primary campaign has put a spotlight on employer-based plans, which cover about 153 million Americans.

Progressive candidates, such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, want to move from employer-sponsored coverage to a national, government-run health insurance system to ensure that everyone is covered.

Other candidates, like former Vice President Joe Biden, are defending the current system.

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