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Cost of U.S. Workers' Health Premiums Surged in 2011
Date:9/27/2011

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage shot up 9 percent in the past year, to more than $15,000, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.

On average, U.S. workers now pay more than $4,000 each year towards health coverage, and the increase has far outpaced growth in workers' wages, the 2011 employer health benefits survey found.

"This year's 9 percent increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," said Drew Altman, Kaiser President and CEO, in a news release issued Tuesday.

Premiums increased 2.1 percent faster than workers' pay, and 3.2 percent faster than general inflation, the researchers found. Overall, family premiums have surged 113 percent since 2001 -- significantly more than the 34 percent growth in wages and 27 percent for inflation.

In the wake of the 2010 health reform law affecting employer coverage, the survey also estimated 2.3 million uninsured young adults up to the age of 26 were added to their parents' employer-sponsored family health plans.

"The law is helping millions of young adults to obtain health coverage. In the past, many of these young adults would have lost coverage when they left home or graduated college," study author Gary Claxton, co-executive director of the Kaiser Initiative on Health Reform and Private Insurance, said in the news release.

The survey also revealed 31 percent of covered workers are in high-deductible health plans, having to pay at least $1,000 in deductibles for single coverage. Twelve percent of these workers face deductibles of at least $2,000.

People working for smaller businesses (fewer than 200 employees) are more likely to have these high deductibles, the research found. Fifty percent of workers in smaller firms face deductibles of at least $1,000, i
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