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Family Health Insurance Premiums Jump 4 Percent in 2012
Date:9/12/2012

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. families are paying 4 percent more in annual premiums for their employer-sponsored family health coverage this year, according to a study released Wednesday.

Family health premiums reached $15,745 annually in 2012, with workers contributing on average $4,316 towards their coverage, revealed a national survey of employers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

Worker-only health coverage rose 3 percent, to $5,615 a year. These workers pay, on average, $951 towards their coverage.

Meanwhile, wages have grown just 1.7 percent, noted a Kaiser news release. Family premiums also have outpaced general inflation, which has increased 2.3 percent.

Despite the rising cost of family coverage, premium growth is still at historic lows and remains an important benefit for workers, the survey sponsors said.

"In terms of employee insurance costs, this year's 4 percent increase qualifies as a good year, but it still takes a growing bite out of middle-class workers' wages, which have been flat or falling in real terms," Drew Altman, president and CEO of Kaiser, said in the release.

The 14th annual survey involved more than 2,000 small and large employers. It found a big discrepancy in the benefits and contributions of companies with many lower-wage workers (earning no more than $24,000 a year) compared to companies with many higher-paid employees (making at least $55,000 a year).

Employees at lower-wage firms on average contribute $4,977 each year to insure their families. That's $1,000 more than the contributions of higher-paid workers at other companies. However, firms with lower-wage workers still, on average, pay less in total premiums for family coverage than firms with higher-paid employees.

Lower-wage workers are also more likely to have high deductibles, the survey noted. Forty-four percent of covered w
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