health insurance costsEmployer-sponsored insurance is the leading source of health insurance in America, covering about 157 million non-elderly workers and their families. But according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, challenging economic times are making such coverage more expensive and less effective for millions of people.

"With the economy struggling, businesses have been shifting more of the costs of health insurance to workers through premiums, deductibles and other cost-sharing," said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D., in a press release.

Workers, on average, are paying nearly $4,000 this year toward the cost of family health coverage, an increase of 14%, or $482, above what they paid last year, according to the survey. But family health premiums -- the total paid to the insurer, which includes both employee and employer contributions -- rose only 3%, to $13,770 on average in 2010. The disparity is explained by the fact that the average employer contribution did not increase, despite rising costs. Workers are making up the difference, paying 30% of the total premium, up from 27% in 2009.

And over the past decade, the annual premium for family coverage increased 114%, while the workers' share has grown by 147%, the survey said.

Similarly, single health premiums increased 5% in 2010 to reach $5,049 annually, but workers on average are paying 15%, or $120, more than what they paid in 2009. Forty-seven percent of covered workers are in single coverage plans. Covered workers contribute 19% of the total premium for single coverage on average, up from 17% last year.

"From a consumer perspective, the cost of health insurance just keeps going up faster than wages," Altman said. Indeed, the survey finds that since 2005, workers' contributions to premiums have gone up 47%. Overall premiums rose 27%, outpacing wage and inflation growth of 18% and 12%, respectively.

Benefits Shrinking Too

Altman adds that shifting the burden may be helping companies "to stem the rapid rise in premiums that we saw in the early 2000s, but it also means employer coverage is less comprehensive." This year, in response to the economic downturn, 23% of employers said they increased the worker's share, while 30% said they reduced the scope of all health benefits or increased cost sharing.

For example, many employers are raising the annual deductibles workers must pay. More than one in four covered workers (27%) now face annual deductibles of at least $1,000, up from 22% in 2009, the survey found. Among small firms (3-199 workers), nearly half of the covered employees (46%) face such deductibles.

But the higher burden on workers comes with other costs. "High out-of-pocket expenses and premiums affect health care decisions for patients. If premiums and costs continue to be shifted to consumers, households will face difficult choices, like forgoing needed care, or reexamining how they can best care for their families," said Dr. Maulik Joshi, president of Health Research & Educational Trust, which contributed to the report.

The report comes a few months after the health-reform bill was signed by President Barack Obama. But Altman told NPR the survey raises questions about affordability of health care for the majority of Americans. "While we were all focused on expanding coverage in the health reform debate ... what we call health insurance in the country has actually been changing an awful lot," he said. "So what most people get as health insurance today just doesn't look very much like the more comprehensive health insurance their parents got."

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust conducted the survey from January to May, with 2,046 randomly selected businesses responding.

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Since the end of "BUSH ERA", obviously the Insurance Co's knew that the Democratic party would win in "08". While this was in the works , so was increasing premiums & co-pays to the point where its financially ruining Americans. My husband & I pay 1500$ a MONTH because he's a consultant(many Co's are doing this instead of hiring individuals as employees so they do not CONTRIBUTE). MY MAIN PROBLEM, our insurance co is charging so much more because of theses "so-called claims" but are "MAKING RECORD PROFITS". This obviously doen't make sense, the increase of Premiums in my eyes does NOT reflect the fact that people are living longer or on more meds, if so,AETNA wouldn't have enjoyed highest quarter EVER.This makes no sense at all. Inflation is one thing but this is purly "UNAMERICAN" and ROBBERY. I ,myself have been going through a medical "MYSTERY" and having been dealing with "UNEDUCATED DR's" ....this is one of the main problems in this country. We have Dr's that just will pawn you off onto someone else? Why? They don't know what to do except cash checks. I actually diagnosed myself , being a Biology major, I had enough BRAINS to spend more than 5 minutes looking into a problem. Health care is like fast food. You get in then out as fast as possible, except forget paying 99 cents for a lousy cheesesburger, your paying 150 BUCKS. I don't possibly see how they can make it much worse OR INFLATE THIS CRAPPY SERVICE ANYMORE! American's will want to stop contributing into society, lose their jobs on PURPOSE & ENJOY WELFARE &CHARITY CARE HEALTH PLANS. Then we shall see how Companies like Aetna Fare!

September 16 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So much for Obamas health care program. It made it worse I can hardly afford my medications. Sometimes I have to refuse a prescription because I cant pay the co payment....

September 05 2010 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

A national healthcare system is the only answer to an equitable, affordable healthcare system in the USA.

September 04 2010 at 7:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It is all part of a plan by the progressives/liberals. More and more people will not be able to afford insurance so what does that mean......Single payor system. To the elderly that are on Medicare..$500 million cut already in the Obamacare. Well, soon it will be $1 billion cut and higher and higher. Obama will reject any "hip replacements" by telling you to take an aspirin. I am worried about this because I will be 65 in 5-1/2 years. America wake up and take this country back!!!

September 04 2010 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OK I thought OBAMATRON's , Pelosi and Reid's Health care plan prevented costs for the average American consumer/family from rising or being unaffordable. Am I correct??? ANYONE?ANYONE?ANYONE?...

September 04 2010 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to johnskii's comment

Yes you are correct!!!

September 05 2010 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They don't care about the "Average JOE"...We have been stuck with rising premiums because health care co's know the Agenda of the Democrats... In return , WE THE PEOPLE ARE BEING PUNISHED -so empty your wallet and expect a drive thru DR's. This Counrty has turned health care into a DRAINING SYSTEM. Premiums rising & CO-PAYS TOO, meanwhile the average time a DR/Specialist spends with you is less than 10 minutes?????Is that fair after waiting over 1 to 1 1/2 hours to see someone who intends on not HELPING. This is a Highly expensive & broken system. We were better off a few years ago,OBAMACARE has caused it to become worse & less affordable!

September 16 2010 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

nepotism 3hell marries family of one 10-2-2010 bjc PTSD hello unity john q public

September 03 2010 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where did the people that support(ed) this think the money was coming from? Obama's "private stash"?

September 03 2010 at 8:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Obama-ination Care will kill us all

September 03 2010 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama-ination Care will kill us all

September 03 2010 at 7:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

To All It is very true the cost of plans are up on average 15-25% and it has forced compaanies to reaise deductibles, coinsurince and raising the share employees pay thank you to Administration by making healt care more expenseive many people will have to drop it What is this Administration doing, leveraging the future on bogus stimulus, passing a wildly expensive Health plan I believe they have lost touch with reality, and the typical american who most likely is unemployed They are making many hugh mistakes and sorry to say we will pay the price

September 03 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply