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Premiums for family health insurance at work jump to nearly $24,000 this year


New York
CNN

Workers and their employers are paying a lot more for job-based health insurance this year.

The annual cost of family health insurance coverage at work soared to an average of nearly $24,000 this year, according to KFF’s Employer Health Benefits Survey, released Wednesday. That’s up 7% from last year.

Employees are shelling out an average of $6,575 for their share of the premium, up almost $500, or close to 8%, from last year, the annual survey found. Their companies are footing the rest of the bill.

“We have a huge premium increase this year. There’s just no other way to cut it,” said Matthew Rae, who co-authored the survey. “There are many affordability challenges for employer coverage.”

For single coverage, the average annual premium rose to $8,435, also up 7% from last year. Workers are picking up just over $1,400 of the tab, about $75 more than last year.

Although large, the jump in premiums is roughly in line with the rise in wages and inflation since 2022, as well as over the past five years, according to KFF. This is different from in the early 2000s, when premiums were soaring by double digits, but inflation and wage growth were relatively muted.

The tight job market has prompted companies to avoid watering down their health insurance coverage since it can be a recruiting and retention tool.

Deductibles remained essentially flat this year, which may reflect employers’ concerns about how many workers have to shell out when they need medical care, KFF said. The average annual deductible is roughly $1,735 among workers who have a deductible for single coverage.

“Employers want to keep offering good benefits to keep good people,” said Rae.

Still, workers should prepare for premiums to take a bigger bite out of their paychecks in coming years. Nearly a quarter of companies said they will increase employees’ premium contributions in the next two years, KFF found.

Workers at smaller firms typically pay much more for coverage than their peers at companies with at least 200 workers.

KDC Mailing & Bindery had to contend with an overall premium increase of about 13% for this year, said Steve Van Loon, director of operations at the Tempe, Arizona, firm, which has 42 workers.

The company, which only started offering health benefits in 2019 to be more competitive, raised workers’ premiums by 3% but had to raise its prices by as much as 5% to help it afford the increased costs. KDC covered the rest.

Next year, the company likely won’t be able to be as generous to its staff, Van Loon said.

“Our profit margins do not allow us to absorb these costs,” he said. “We’re going to be out of business.”

Large employers with workers in more than one state may face challenges in offering abortion coverage after the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision that ended the federal constitutional right to an abortion. Several states have adopted laws that prohibit or restrict abortion access.

One in 10 large firms with at least 200 employees said their largest plan does not cover legal abortions, KFF found. Another 18% said they only cover abortion under limited circumstances, such as rape, incest or health or life endangerment.

Nearly a third of large firms said they covered abortion in most or all circumstances, while 40% said they were an element of their coverage policy, possibly because it was in flux or they were unaware of the details.

After the Supreme Court ruling, several companies said they would offer financial assistance to employees who had to travel to other states for abortions. Some 7% of large employers -— and 19% of companies with at least 5,000 workers — provide or plan to provide such reimbursement.

KFF did not ask these questions on abortion in prior surveys.

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