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HEALTH INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLES DOUBLED IN 7 YEARS, STUDY FINDS

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

By ANN CARRNS

1/27/12 | Updated Headline adjusted to more accurately reflect the article.

If you’ve seen your health insurance premiums increase along with your deductible, you’re not alone. A recent studyby the Commonwealth Fund shows just how much more consumers are paying for employer-provided health insurance.

Total premiums — the amount paid by both employers and workers combined — for family coverage rose 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, to nearly $14,000 a year, the study found. (The fund is a private foundation that researches health policy issues. The report includes an interactive mapshowing premium increases by state.)

Workers, meanwhile, are shouldering more of that burden. Their share of annual premiums increased by 63 percent over the same period. In 2010, employee premiums for family-plan coverage averaged about $3,700, up from roughly $2,300 back in 2003.

As a result, “many working families have seen little or no growth in wages as they have, in effect, traded off wage increases just to hold onto their health benefits,” the report found.

What’s more, employees are paying more for less, because of higher deductibles — the amount workers pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. The average family deductible nearly doubled over the seven years studied, to almost $2,000 in 2010.

The study used annual employer data from the federal government to examine insurance cost trends in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Whether the rate of cost growth can be slowed, the report said, depends on the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March 2010 and intended to go into effect over several years. The act has, for instance, rules to limit what insurance companies can spend on administrative costs and can be “a platform for further action,” the report said.

In November, however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the healthcare overhaul law, throwing some of its provisions into question.

“With rising costs and eroding coverage, much is at stake for the insured and uninsured alike as the nation looks forward,” the report concluded.

If you have employer-based health insurance, how are you handling increases in your premiums and deductibles?

Original article http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/family-health-insurance-costs-doubled-in-7-years-study-finds/?src=tp

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