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Cost of family health insurance tops $22,000 this year

Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

Employer-sponsored health plans are the single largest source of health insurance coverage in the U.S. with enrollment of about 155 million Americans.

The survey finds 59% of employers offer health benefits, which is largely unchanged over the past decade. Nearly all firms with at least 200 workers offer coverage compared with 56% of firms with fewer than 50 workers.

On average, covered workers contribute 17% of the premium for single coverage, according to the survey, and 28% of the premium for family coverage.

Most covered workers must pay a share of the cost when they use health care services, with many facing a general annual deductible that must be met before most services are paid for by the plan.

The average deductible with single coverage stands at $1,669, similar to recent years but up significantly since 2011, when it stood at $991. This year 85% of covered workers have a deductible in their plan, the survey found, up from 74% a decade ago.

The survey found that a significant share (39%) made changes to mental health and substance abuse benefits since the start of the pandemic. Nearly one-third (31%) increased how enrollees could access mental health services, such as via telemedicine programs.

 

About 1-in-20 employers said they expanded their networks of mental health care providers and/or reduced cost-sharing fees for workers accessing those services. Overall about 12% of employers with at least 50 workers that offer health benefits reported an increase in use of mental-health services.

New federal rules will require insurers to make information available to enrollees about the estimated cost of services and cost sharing on a "real-time" basis. The survey found 26% of large employers offering health benefits believe the information will help with health care decision-making "a great deal," although only 3% of large employers said the new transparency rules would reduce health spending "a great deal."

In a write-up of the survey results being published in the journal Health Affairs, researchers at the foundation said the COVID-19 pandemic remains the most important story of 2021 including how employers are adapting benefits as a result.

"Overall market characteristics changed little: premiums continued on a modest growth trend, the share of people offered coverage at their work and the share of those covered by their jobs remained unchanged, as did the average deductible and other cost-sharing levels," researchers wrote.

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