How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?
New data on individual plan costs for 2012 is available here
If you’re asking about employer-sponsored health insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation has your answer. According to its 2012 Annual Survey of Employer Health Benefits, released today, the average total premium paid per year is $5,615 for single-person coverage and $15,745 for family coverage.
Now, when it comes to employer-based health insurance, costs are split between employers and employees. Though the total annual premium for single-person coverage came in at $5,615, the average employee contribution toward that total was only $951 per year. And out of a total annual premium of $15,745 for family coverage, only $4,316 was taken from the employee’s wages.
How does that compare to previous years? And how does it compare to the kind of health insurance coverage you can buy on your own?
To answer to the first question first, according to Kaiser’s own report, the increase in total premiums for family coverage year over year was about 4%, while single-person premiums increased 3% vs. 2011. While it’s still increasing faster than workers’ wages and faster than inflation, this actually represents a relative flattening of the health insurance cost-curve. When you look at Kaiser’s number over the past ten years, you see that the average family premiums over that time have increased an astonishing 97%.
Comparing costs for employer-based health insurance with costs for individually-purchased health insurance can be a tricky business since the coverage offered by each can differ rather dramatically. But an eHealth, Inc. (parent company of eHealthInsurance) report on the cost of individual and family coverage last year found that the average cost of self-purchased coverage (for plans bought through eHealthInsurance.com) was $183 per month for single persons and $414 for families. We’ll publish an updated report on these costs later this year.
So, who gets the credit for the apparent slowdown in premium increases? That’s debatable. Kaiser suggests that policyholders may be delaying costly medical care due to the rough economy. This could keep total costs (and hence cost increases) down. The Department of Health and Human Services, to judge from a press release published today, might prefer to see the “rate review” provision of the 2010 health reform law get the credit.
Time will tell whether this is a sustainable flattening of health insurance costs in the employer market. In the meantime, there’s some sport in watching how Kaiser’s study is reported in various media outlets, to see the different ways the data is presented.
Image by Flickr user 401(K) 2012