Health Reform WK-EDGE Premiums for workers up 20 percent in 5 years
Monday, October 15, 2018

Premiums for workers up 20 percent in 5 years

By Patricia K. Ruiz, J.D.

Premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage rose 20 percent in the past five years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey. Employees contributed an average of 29 percent of premium costs for family coverage and 18 percent for single coverage. The survey also found that more than 20 percent of firms offering coverage to full-time employees also offered health benefits to part-time employees.

Rise in premiums. The survey found that the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2018 reached $6,896 for single coverage, an increase of three percent from 2017, and $19,616 for family coverage, an increase of five percent. A comparison with previous surveys showed that the average premium for family coverage has increased 20 percent since 2013 and 55 percent since 2008. While the survey found that small and large firms had similar average premiums for single coverage, small firms offered a lower average premium for family coverage.

Contributions. On average, workers paid approximately $5,500 toward the cost of coverage, with workers contributing an average of 18 percent of premium costs for single coverage and 29 percent for family coverage. Among covered workers, the average deductible was about $1,500 for single coverage. For high-deductible health plans with a savings option, average premiums were considerably lower than the overall average for all plan types. Average premiums also varied geographically, with higher than average premiums in the northeast U.S. and relatively low premiums in the south.

Offer of coverage. The survey also found that 56 percent of small firms and 98 percent of large firms offered health benefits to at least some of their workers, for an overall offer rate of 57 percent. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) employer shared responsibility provision requires that firms with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees offer coverage that meets minimum standards. In 2018, 22 percent of firms offering health benefits offered them to part-time workers, and 8 percent offered such benefits to temporary workers. Large and small firms had similar rates of offering health benefits to part-time workers, and large firms were more likely than small firms to offer benefits to temporary workers.

Annual survey. The KFF conducts an annual survey of private and non-federal public employees with three or more workers. The survey describes trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. For 2018, the survey included more than 2,000 interviews.

Companies: Kaiser Family Foundation

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