November 11, 2021 – Family health insurance obtained through an employer now averages more than $22,000 a year, according to new survey results by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Employees pay about $6,000 of those costs, and companies cover the rest, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. The average annual premium increased by 4% this year to reach $22,221.
The average annual premium for a single worker in 2021 rose to $7,739, also up 4%. Workers pay about $1,300 and employers cover the rest.
Companies are realizing their plans aren’t affordable, especially for lower-paid workers, Gary Claxton, senior vice president at Kaiser, told CNN. But employers don’t see options to offer good benefits at lower prices, he noted.
“They know these plans are expensive and difficult for their employees to use,” Claxton said. “Given the cost of health care in this country, it is quite difficult to fashion good benefits at a lower cost for employees, especially those with lower and moderate salaries.”
About 155 million Americans rely on employer-sponsored coverage, with premiums rising over the past decade, Kaiser reported. Since 2011, average family premiums have increased by 47%, more than salaries or inflation, which have increased by 31% and 19% respectively.
The average deductible is $1,669 for workers who have an annual deductible before insurance covers the costs, according to the survey. That’s similar to last year, but up 68% over the past decade.
During the pandemic, nearly 4 in 10 employers made changes to mental health and telemedicine benefits, the survey found. Companies said they saw an increase in the number of employees seeking mental health and addictions services. Employers with more than 1,000 workers saw the largest increase, at 38%.
More than half of companies with 50 or more employees said they had made changes to their wellbeing programs during the pandemic, including the expansion of online counseling services, changes to accommodate people working from home and new digital programs such as apps.
“The expansion of telemedicine and mental health benefits was important to meet the needs of employees and their families in difficult times,” Claxton and co-authors written in a statement.
The peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs published main findings and authors’ comments on Wednesday.
Many workers are now selecting their health insurance plans for 2022 as part of their companies’ open enrollment periods, CNN reported. Employers expect health benefit costs to increase by about 5% and employee premiums to increase by about 2%.