Report: Family Health Insurance Premiums Rising Twice as Fast as Wages

While insurance premiums for families increased at a modest pace in 2012, businesses and consumers were already struggling with high rates.

Premiums haven’t stopped increasing just yet, according to a new survey.

Even a moderate increase feels really big to workers when their wages are flat or falling.

According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, health care premiums have increased by an average of 4 percent in 2012, The Washington Post reports. After a 9 percent jump in family insurance premiums in 2011, that may not seem like much — until you realize that family plan premiums are already averaging around $15,745, with $4,300 reaching employees.

That 4 percent average is also more than twice the rate of wage increases for middle-class workers (1.7 percent). So, as a result, “even a moderate increase feels really big to workers when their wages are flat or falling,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s president, Drew Altman.

And it could get worse, with some businesses suggesting the premium rate may jump by 7 percent in 2013, according to CNBC.

Could “Obamacare” have an effect on this? The strongest cost-control measures from the Affordable Care Act have yet to reach businesses and consumers, but could have an effect on future premiums. That said, health care premiums have risen by $2,400 since President Obama took office in 2009.

The waste factor: Curbing wasteful spending could be a factor in trimming those costs. Last week, an Institute of Medicine study estimated that 30 percent of all health care spending (around $750 billion a year) gets wasted through paperwork and unnecessary procedures, The New York Times reported. “If banking were like health care, automated teller machine transactions would take not seconds but perhaps days or longer as a result of unavailable or misplaced records,” the report stated.

How are your association’s members handling health care costs — and do they see positive or negative effects from the Affordable Care Act? Post more in the comments.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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