Family health premiums top $15K in 2012

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Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745 in 2012, up 4 percent from 2011, with workers on average paying $4,316 toward the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey.

The premium increase outpaced growth in wages (1.7 percent) and general inflation (2.3 percent), according to the survey. Since 2002, premiums have increased 97 percent, three times as fast as wages (33 percent) and inflation (28 percent).

The survey identified a disparity between firms with many lower-wage workers (at least 35 percent of employees earn $24,000 or less annually) and firms with many higher-wage workers (at least 35 percent of their workers earn $55,000 or more annually).

Workers at lower-wage firms on average pay $1,000 more each year out of their paychecks for family coverage, at $4,977 and $3,968, respectively. However, on average total premiums are $14,694 at lower-wage firms and $16,427 at higher-wage firms.

Employees at lower-wage firms are more likely to face high deductibles, with 44 percent of covered workers at low-wage firms facing an annual deductible of $1,000 or more compared with 29 percent of those at higher-wage firms. A total of 34 percent of workers face a deductible of $1,000 or more and 14 percent face an annual deductible of $2,000 or more.

The survey estimated that 2.9 million young adults are currently covered by employer plans as a result of the provision of in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allows young adults up to age 26 without employer coverage of their own to be covered as dependents on their parents’ plans. In 2011, 2.3 young million adults were covered.

The organizations conducted the survey of 3,326 randomly selected non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees between January and May.