Employer-sponsored insurance premiums rise moderately in 2014

Family health coverage increased 3% in 2014 and now averages $16,834 annually, according to the 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey. Covered workers contribute $402 per month, or $4,823 annually for family coverage. Premiums for single-coverage plans are $6,025, similar to 2013 premium levels. Family premiums increased 26% between 2009 and 2014, compared to 34% between 2004 and 2009 and 72% between 1999 and 2004.

“This year’s premium increase continues a recent trend of moderate premium growth. Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent for 2009-2014 vs. 34 percent for 2004-2009) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”

Kaiser Family Foundation

Annual premium increases have been relatively modest in recent years – yet workers may still be paying more when they receive health care services. 80% of covered workers now have a general annual deductible they must meet before insurance kicks in to covers most other services, compared to 63% in 2009. The average general annual deductible for single-coverage workers increased from $826 in 2009 to $1,217 in 2014.

Although some important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect for 2014, the survey did not find statistically significant changes in the overall percent of firms offering health benefits (55% in 2014 and 57% in 2013) or the percent of workers at such firms who are actually enrolled in coverage (62%). Currently, smaller employers are less likely than larger firms to offer health coverage. Among firms with fewer than 200 workers not offering health benefits, “high cost” was the most commonly cited deterrent.

The report also provides information on employee wellness programs and health risk assessments, tools which employers are increasingly hoping will help curb costs and promote better health among their workforce. 73% of small employers and 98% of larger employers who offer a health benefits plan also offer some type of wellness benefit, ranging from weight loss programs to preventative health services such as the flu shot and other vaccinations.