Despite a relatively slow rise in costs again this year, premiums for employer health coverage reached above the $16,000 mark for the first time, according to a major survey.
The 4% increase in the cost of a family plan represents the same rate of growth as last year, rising from a cost of $15,745 in 2012 to $16,351 this year. The slowed rate likely reflects employees’ continued tendency to limit the use of health care, said Gary Claxton, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which performed the annual poll.
However, the exact reason for the relative lull in the continued upward march of health care costs is a topic of debate among health care economists. Some people believe that it is largely a result of the recession, and the effect will likely end when the economy rebounds.
Other economists prescribe to the idea that the downshift may be more tied to permanent changes in how health care is being purchased. For example higher deductibles and increased efficiency among health care providers overall may be slowing the rise in costs.
Claxton said this year’s results showed minimum impact from the federal health law. Most of the major provisions take effect next year, and other, smaller conditions, such as the addition of children up to the age of 26 to their parents’ plans, have already been incorporated into the cost of coverage.
The survey also showed that higher-deductible plans are retaining popularity. The share of employees enrolled in plans that have an annual deductible of $1,000 or more for single coverage hit 38% in 2013, an increase from 34% last year.
For more information on 2013 health care costs, see the article by Anna Wilde Matthews this information was taken from.