As open enrollment for employer-sponsored health insurance nears, workers face a stark reality check: Premiums and deductibles alike have been rising faster than wages and inflation.
Those findings are in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 Employer Health Benefits Survey. More than 4,000 companies were polled for the last annual survey.
This year, annual premiums rose 5 percent for workers with family coverage in employer-sponsored health insurance, to an average of $19,616, according to the nonprofit KFF (the Kaiser Family Foundation). Workers contribute an average of $5,547 to the expense, and employers cover the rest.
Annual premiums for single individual coverage rose 3 percent to an average of $6,896, with workers contributing an average of $1,186.
KFF notes that those premium increases from 2017 to 2018 were comparable to the growth in wages and inflation during that period. Over time, however, premium increases continue to outpace wages and inflation. Since 2008, family premiums have gone up 55 percent — twice as fast as wages and three times as fast as inflation.
The situation is even worse with deductibles — the amount of money that an insured person must pay for services before their health insurance plan will pay for most services. Since 2008, the average general annual deductible among all covered workers has increased by 212 percent.
The average single deductible is now $1,573 for workers who have a deductible.
The share of workers with a deductible is also rising. It now stands at 85 percent, up from 81 percent last year and 59 percent a decade ago.
What it means for you
The most important lesson here is to review your current coverage before you renew it. Even if you love your current plan, you should take the time to do a little homework before automatically choosing the same plan for next year.
For example, during your employer’s open enrollment period, you should:
- Consider whether your health needs have changed or will change from this year to next year.
- Find out whether your current plan is changing for the coming year.
- Review other options available to you for the coming year.
Before you can take these steps, however, you need to find out your employer’s open enrollment period dates and gather key documents.
If you have yet to hear when open enrollment starts, ask your employer’s human resources department.
Then, get a copy of your Summary of Benefits and Coverage, or SBC. It’s a brief document written in plain language that should resemble this sample SBC from Healthcare.gov, the federal health care exchange website.
“This information helps you make ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons when you’re looking at plans,” the federal website explains.
Health insurance plans must provide you with an SBC at certain times, including when you apply for or renew your policy, according to Healthcare.gov. You can also ask your plan for a copy of your SBC at any time.
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