Kaiser HRET Health Costs Survey

This week the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust released the annual employer health benefits survey this past week. As always, this study is a treasure trove of statistics. The average family health insurance plan increased by 5% -- to $12,680, and the average single policy (purchased through employers) cost $4704. Family premiums increased by 27% over 2004, and by 119% over 1999. For the first time in a number of years, the percentage of firms offering health insurance did NOT decline, although this survey predated the current economic maelstrom. Bigger firms and those with fewer low wage workers were more likely to offer employee health insurance. Lower wage workers, on the average, were also more likely to elect not to accept employer-sponsored health insurance, presumably due to the employee cost of premium. Deductibles and copayments are up, and more employees are on high deductible health plans.

Of note, KFF/HRET is famous for one graphic which health care policy wonks refresh each year - and it seems to be missing from this report. This compares the cost of health insurance premiums to the overall inflation rate and the change in average wages. This graphic is at the top of this post.

Note that the BLS says that CPI (Urban) is up 5.6% this year (July-July), and wages are up 3.3%. So - for the first time in many years, CPI looks like it will be higher than the inflation in health insurance premiums! Also, for the first time in years, I'll have to make my own slide showing this relationship.