Moderate Premium Increase May Indicate Slowdown in Cost Spending

While the employer mandate delay and other stalls in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act have raised a few eyebrows, a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation brings forth some encouraging news.

While the employer mandate delay and other stalls in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act have raised a few eyebrows, a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation brings forth some encouraging news.

According to the findings, annual employer health insurance premiums only rose 4% in 2013—down from the almost 9.5% gain in 2011. The low premium rate increase may serve as an indicator that costs for US employees are slowing. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports:

The average annual premiums in 2013 are $5,884 for single coverage and $16,351 for family coverage. Average premiums increased 5% for single coverage and 4% for family coverage in the last year. Family premiums have increased 80% since 2003 and have more than doubled since 2002.

The report also finds that the average family premiums for workers in small firms are about $1200 lower than average family premiums for workers in larger firms. Additionally, Gary Claxton, the study’s lead investigator, says the employer mandate is not projected to impact premiums in 2014.

“We are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs without cutting back benefits,” Drew Altman, Kaiser president and CEO, said in a statement.

Mr Altman suggests that moderate premium rate increases can likely be attributed to the overall downturn in spending. Due to the economy, many Americans limit seeking medical care to avoid out-of-pocket expenses. Another reason for the moderate increase may be due to employers shifting costs to employees through higher deductibles or increased copays.

However, the results of the findings remain promising. Dr Maulik Joshi, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust, added in the statement, “Ensuring that workers have access to affordable coverage is important for our health care system and slower premium growth is supporting that.”

Around the Web

Employer Mandate Delay Raises Concern Over Individual Mandate [AJMC]

Another ACA Provision to be Delayed Until 2015 [AJMC]

2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey [Kaiser Family Foundation]

Employer-Sponsored Family Health Premiums Rise a Modest 4 Percent in 2013, National Benchmark Employer Survey Finds [Kaiser Family Foundation]

Premiums for employer-sponsored coverage moderating, Kaiser study finds [Modern Healthcare]