Employees paying an average of $5,969 annually for family insurance coverage

Since 2011, average family premiums have increased 47%

The Kaiser Family Foundation Health Benefits Survey shows that workers are contributing $5,969 toward the cost of family health insurance coverage, with employers paying the rest. Since 2011, average family premiums have increased 47%, more than wages (31%) or inflation (19%). The survey looked at premiums and the effects of COVID-19 on the insurance market.

Among employers with at least 200 workers, half report that health-care utilization among their plan enrollees has been about what they expected for the most recent quarter, while 32% say utilization has been below expectations, and 18% say it was above expectations.

Among firms with at least 50 workers that offer health benefits, 39% report making changes to their mental health and substance abuse benefits since the beginning of the pandemic. This includes 31% who increased the ways enrollees can access mental-health services, such as through telemedicine; and 16% who offered new mental health resources, such as an employee assistance program. Six percent say they expanded their in-network mental health and substance abuse providers, waived or reduced cost-sharing for related services (4%), or increased coverage for out-of-network services (3%).

Overall 12% of employers with at least 50 workers that offer health benefits reported an increase in their enrollees’ use of mental-health services. Among the largest employers (with 1,000 or more workers), more than a third (38%) reported such an increase.

Other COVID-related findings include:

• 65% of companies with at least 50 workers say they made changes related to telemedicine due to the pandemic. Slightly more than half did additional promotion of their telemedicine benefits to workers and 31% expanded coverage for additional modes of telemedicine. In addition, nearly a quarter expanded the places where telemedicine could be delivered (24%), expanded the number or types of telemedicine providers (23%), and expanded covered telemedicine services.

• 55% of companies with at least 50 workers say they made changes to their wellness programs due to the pandemic. The most common changes involve expanding online counseling services (43%), expanding or changing existing programs to better meet the needs of people working from home (22%), and adding a new digital program such as an app (17%).

Average deductible is up 92% over past decade

The average single deductible stands at $1,669 for workers, similar to the average in each of the past two years ($1,644 in 2020; $1,655 in 2019) but up significantly since 2011 ($991). This year 85% of covered workers have a deductible in their plan, up from 74% a decade ago.

Combined, the growing share of workers with deductibles and rising average deductibles over the past decade have increased the burden of deductibles by 92% across all covered workers.

Among covered workers with a deductible, those at small firms with less than 200 employees on average face deductibles that are 70% higher than those at large firms with at least 200 employees ($2,379 vs. $1,397).

This article was initially published by our sister publication Medical Economics.