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Employers aren't dropping health coverage, survey finds


Premiums continue to increase, albeit at a slightly slower pace than in past years, and employers haven't dropped coverage, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Based on responses from more than 2,000 employers, the survey found premiums rose 4 percent for employer-based health plans, bringing the total cost for a family's health insurance to more than $16,000 in 2013. Moreover, premiums are still increasing faster than wages and inflation.

"For me, a 4 percent premium increase is pretty striking. It's also pretty good news," Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said during a press call, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. However, he added that "people still feel the pain of healthcare costs and worry about paying their healthcare bills."

Meanwhile, employees' share of those costs increased 6 percent from last year to more than $4,500, yet employers' costs are only rising 3 percent. That indicates employers are shifting more costs to their workers by offering, for example, high-deductible plans. About 38 percent of all employees have plans with a deductible of at least $1,000 this year, compared to only 10 percent in 2006.

"The trend continues, especially in smaller firms," Altman said. "It's part of what I see as a quiet revolution in health insurance from more comprehensive to less comprehensive with higher deductibles."

The survey also found employers aren't dropping health coverage as 57 percent of companies still provide health plans to their workers, which is "statistically unchanged" from the last few years. And among employers with 50 or more workers, 93 percent offer insurance, despite the Obama administration's one-year delay in the reform law's employer mandate.

"There really is no reason for employers to be radically whacking away at health coverage or health benefits in a slow healthcare cost environment like this," Altman said, the Associated Press reported.  

To learn more:
- here's the Kaiser survey
- see the Bloomberg Businessweek article
- read the Associated Press article

Related Articles:
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White House delays employer mandate until 2015
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Survey: Half of young adults skip employer coverage
Study: Employer-based coverage will survive post-reform