American Workers' Health Care Costs Increase Again

Health care expenses grew more than wages this year.

Milliman, Health Insurance
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The family health care tab shows no sign of shrinking. On average, according to the latest Milliman Medical Index (MMI), a family of four covered through a typical employer health plan will pay out $9,144 this year in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. That's up about 6.5 percent over 2012, though not as much as the prior year's increase of 7.2 percent. The 2013 rise translates into slightly more than $45 a month in higher monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

[See The Real Obstacle of Health Insurance Exchanges: American Consumers.]

A significant reason for the jump, based on today's figures from Milliman, a health care consultancy, is that employees are shouldering a greater share of the cost of health insurance. Families are paying 8.4 percent more than last year toward insurance premiums, while employers are paying 6.1 percent more. Between 2010 and now, employees have seen yearly increases of 8 percent to 9 percent in their average monthly premium; increases in the employer contribution have averaged less than 7 percent. Private-industry wages, by contrast, have risen less than 2 percent in the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[See How to Do Your Homework on Health Care Reform.]

Families with coverage like the one built into Milliman's assumptions will pay an average of $5,544 in monthly premiums through payroll deductions and $3,600 out of pocket for doctor visits, medications and other medical bills. Such figures are national averages; the most expensive 10 percent of patients run up more than seven times the average individual's expenses, according to Milliman.

"Average" means a family with two kids, enrolled in a company's standard preferred provider organization, which is the most widely used form of group coverage. The family pays about 41 percent of the actual cost of health care, according to the Milliman index. Employers pay the other 59 percent.

[See Long-Term Care Expenses Could Swamp Medicaid.]

About half of Americans are insured through their employer; about 15 million people buy individual health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and are therefore responsible for all of their care. U.S. News publishes ratings of individual and family insurance plans.The Milliman report did not examine cost trends for such plans or for Medicare plans.

[See Affordable Care Act Coverage: 5 Key Numbers.]

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