Premiums

Frustration Grows Over ‘Relentless’ Employer Plan Premium Rise

The premium costs of employer-sponsored health plans increased by 4% this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s (KFF) annual Employer Health Benefits Survey. KFF analysts and health care purchasers alike say the annual growth rate in health care costs — employer plan premiums for a family have grown by 47% since 2011 and 283% since 1998, according to KFF — causes unsustainable financial strain for both employers and plan members.

KFF also identified several emerging trends in employer coverage driven by cost growth and the COVID-19 pandemic. Deductibles and other forms of member cost sharing have increased in recent years. The share of employees in high-deductible plans declined slightly in 2021, but accounted for roughly a quarter of employer enrollment, a similar figure to recent years. Employer insurance experts have mixed opinions on whether these trends will continue. Meanwhile, in response to the pandemic, firms expanded their telehealth offerings and behavioral health benefits this year.

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Employer Plans in 2021: Premiums, Telemedicine Coverage Rise

The average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance increased 4% to $7,739 for single coverage and $22,221 for family coverage, respectively, this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. In recent years, high-deductible plans with a savings option have been gaining popularity. About 22% of firms offered an HDHP/SO and 28% of covered workers were enrolled in such a plan in 2021, representing slight declines compared with previous years. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the use of telemedicine, as 95% of firms with 50 or more workers offered telemedicine coverage in their largest health plan, up from 85% last year. In addition, about 65% of firms with 50 or more workers made changes to enhance their telemedicine benefits after the beginning of the pandemic.

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