Human Resources News & Insights

Raising employee’s health contributions? Some benchmarks

It’s a fact of life these days – employees are paying a greater portion of their healthcare plan premiums. The average increase for family coverage this year: 14%.

Here are some benchmarks to help you see where your health plan stands.

According to a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, workers on average are paying nearly $4,000 this year toward the cost of family health coverage — an increase of $482 over what they paid last year.

Since 2005, workers’ contributions to premiums have gone up 47%, while overall premiums rose 27%, wages increased 18%, and inflation rose 12%, the study said.

Many employers are also raising the annual deductibles workers must pay.

A total of 27% of covered workers now face annual deductibles of at least $1,000, up from 22% in 2009, the survey said.  Among small firms (3-199 workers), 46% face such deductibles.

Worker-only coverage, office visits and wellness

Other study findings:

  • Single coverage. Worker-only health benefits increased 5% in 2010 to reach $5,049 annually.  Workers on average are paying $899 annually for single coverage, up from $779 in 2009.
    Forty-seven percent of covered workers are in single coverage plans.
  • Physician office visits. Co-payments for in-network physician office visits increased from $20 to $22 for primary care and from $28 to $31 for specialty care.
  • Mental health benefits. In response to the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, 31% of firms with more than 50 workers made changes to the mental health benefits they offer.
    Most of this group eliminated limits on coverage to comply with the law, though a small share (5% of those making changes) dropped mental health coverage altogether.
  • Wellness benefits. About three-fourths (74%) of employers offering health benefits offer at least one of the following wellness programs: weight loss program, gym membership discounts or on-site exercise facilities, smoking cessation program, personal health coaching, classes in nutrition or healthy living, web-based resources for healthy living, or a wellness newsletter.
  • Health risk assessments. Among firms offering coverage, 11%  give their employees the option of completing a health risk assessment to help employees identify potential health risks.
    Within this group, 22% — or a relatively small 2%t of all employers — offer financial incentives such as lowering the worker’s share of premiums or offering merchandise, gift cards, travel, or cash to their workers.
    Large firms are more likely than small firms both to offer assessments and to offer financial incentives.
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