Workers ‘squeezed’ by health insurance costs
Even when there’s good news for health insurance prices, workers still can’t catch a break. A slow-down in growth of premium prices for employer-based health insurance in most of the United States in recent years has yet to translate into relief for the people covered by those plans, a new reportreleased Wednesday finds. The Commonwealth Fund’s state-by-state analysis also shows that in every state over the course of a decade, the cost of employer-provided health care still grew faster than incomes.
That, in turn, had led to workers footing a bigger share of the costs of their health insurance. In fact, employee contributions to their insurance costs have risen by as much as 175% since 2003 in some cases — with workers in the south having the biggest cost burden. “Slow wage growth means working families in every state are being squeezed by health-care costs,” said Sara Collins, the report’s co-author and vice president for health-care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund.
The report comes after years of slow growth in overall health-care costs on the heels of the 2008 financial meltdown, and as the effects of President Obama’s health-care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, are being felt. The ACA contains several provisions designed to slow the rate of health-care cost growth. The report notes that from 2010 to 2013, on the heels of the ACA’s passage, 31 states and the District of Columbia saw a slowdown in the growth of premiums charged for health insurance for workers. Twelve of those states saw at least a three-percentage-point decrease in the rate of premium inflation.
But from 2003 through 2013, in all states, the price of employer-provider insurance premiums grew quicker than the pay for the workers there. Because of that, “from an employee and family perspective, there may be little awareness that premium growth has slowed,” said Cathy Schoen, one of the authors of the study, which includes an interactive map that highlights the state-based data.