Kaiser: Employer-Sponsored Health Care Premiums Up 6.1% in 2007

September 11, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employer-sponsored health care premiums jumped an average of 6.1% in 2007, which was far ahead of the 3.7% increase in wages and the 2.6% inflation rate, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to a press release about the annual survey, the 6.1% increase was smaller than the 7.7% increase reported last year and the smallest premium increase since 1999, when premiums rose by 5.3%.

Premiums for family coverage have increased 78% since 2001, while wages have gone up 19% and inflation has gone up 17%.The average premium for family coverage in 2007 is $12,106, and workers now pay an average $3,281 to cover their share of the cost of a family policy.

The number of firms offering health benefits was stagnant from last year to this year at about 60% and far lower that the 69% of companies offering the benefits in 2000. Nearly all (99%) large businesses with at least 200 workers offer health benefits to their workers this year, but 45% of the smallest firms with three to nine workers do so.

Consumer-driven health plans have not gained much footing from 2006 to 2007. Such plans cover about 5% of all covered workers, which is not statistically different from the 4% share recorded in 2006.

The survey finds that firms on average pay a total of $7,815 toward the cost of family coverage for a HSA-qualified plan (including $714 for the account) and $10,179 toward the cost of family coverage for a high-deductible plan with a HRA (including $1,800 for the account).Compared to the $8,879 average firm contributions for other types of plans, employer contributions are lower for HSA-qualified plans and higher for plans with HRAs.

In terms of workers’ contributions and cost sharing, covered workers on average pay 16% of the overall premiums for single coverage and 28% for family coverage – shares that have remained relatively stable over the past years.

Workers in small firms (three to 199 workers) pay significantly more on average toward the cost of family coverage ($4,236 annually) compared to larger firms ($2,831 annually). For single coverage, the opposite is true, with workers at small firms annually contributing less on average than workers at large firms ($561 vs. $759).

Other findings include:

  • The average general annual deductible for single coverage is $461 for PPOs, $401 for HMOs, $621 for POS plans and $1,729 for consumer-driven plans.
  • For plans with three- or four-tiered drug cost-sharing, the average co-payments were $11 for generic drugs, $25 for preferred drugs, and $43 for non-preferred drugs. Co-payments for fourth-tier drugs, which may include costly biological agents and lifestyle drugs, averaged $71.
  • 47% of all firms that offer health benefits make them available to unmarried opposite-sex domestic partners, and nearly 37% offer such benefits to same-sex partners.
  • 61% of firms that offer health benefits allow workers to use pre-tax dollars to pay for their share of their health premium costs.
  • 22% offer a Flexible Spending Account.

The survey includes about 3,000 telephone responses from public and private employers, including 1,997 who responded to the full survey and an additional 1,081 who responded to one question about whether or not they provide health coverage to their employees.