Your household budget will be even more pinched, especially if you have a family. Reed Abelson of the NY Times reported on September 3, 2010 that workers’ share of the cost of a family policy jumped an average of 14 percent, an increase of about $500 per year.
Whereas the actual total cost of a policy has increased only 3.0% over last year, the employers are shifting all of this 4.0% AND MORE over to employees, thus employees losing ground against their employers. Employees are seeing much of what had been the employer’s share being shifted over to the employee, thus accounting for an are seeing an average of 14% in the amount paid out by employees.
Health care costs continue to eat into the living standard of employees. Since 2005 overall wages have increased by only 18%, but workers’ contributions to premiums have jumped by 47%. The 47% rise in workers’ contributions is almost twice as fast as the rise in the policy’s overall cost. E.g. the employer is paying a lower percentage of the overall cost of the policy than is the employee; the employer is thus shifting the cost of the policy to the employee.
Moreover, workers also are facing larger deductibles than ever before.
According to Mr. Abelson’s article, even greater health insurance premium burdens are headed towards employees. Ms. Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, an organization representing employers that provide healthcare is quoted, "There’s a sense (among employers) that we can’t keep up….we (employers) can’t afford to continue to subsidize what’s happening."
Mr. Abelson reports that, "Faced with a potential increase int he premiums paid that would bring the cost of family coverage to about$1,000 a month, the executives at a trucking business in Salt Lake City chose to switch to a plan that had a $6,000 annual deductible….to reduce their monthly premiums by nearly $200 to $647 a family…the chief financial officer (of the trucking company) acknowledged that people with chronic conditinos or the need for expensive medicines had felt the impact of the change."
A nonprofit insurance research foundation The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study which related that now 27% of employees suffer under a health policy with a deductible of $1,000 or more, up from 22% in 2009.
Some states are authorizing "insurance exchanges" which allows small employers to give employees a fixed amount of money to purchase a policy. The Utah legislature has authorized such an exchange which allows an employee to select between 60 different policies to find a policy which best suits the employee’s needs. In this way, the employee can choose a lesser cost policy if there is no need for a "cadillac" policy.
IDEA FOR ACTION: Check with your state Insurance Commissioner’s office to see if an "insurance exchange" program is authorized should you work for a small employer and have modest family healthcare needs. If you have a high family healthcare needs, open a channel of communication with your employer to explain your analysis of the harmful effect of an increasing deductible. You may be able to discuss with your employer some way to avoid a shift of costs to your wallet by perhaps offering to take on some modest additional work duties.