According to the 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey, released on 15 September 2009 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $13,375 annually for family coverage this year – with employees on average paying $3,515 and employers paying $9,860.

The 2009 annual survey of employers provided a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information.

Following are some of the findings of the survey:

  • Family premiums rose about 5 percent this year. That’s much more than general inflation, which fell 0.7 percent, and workers wages that went up 3.1 percent, during the same period.
  • 60 percent of firms offer health benefits to any of their workers this year. As in the past, the smaller the firm, the less likely it is to offer health benefits – with fewer than half (46 percent) of the smallest employers (three to nine workers) offering health benefits.
  • Among those firms offering benefits, 21 percent reported they reduced the scope of health benefits or increased cost sharing due to the economic downturn, and 15 percent reported they increased the worker’s share of the premium.
  • The survey reveals that a growing number of workers who are covered by their employer are facing high deductibles in their plans in addition to contributing to the premiums for their coverage. In 2009, 22 percent of covered workers must pay at least $1,000 out of pocket annually for single coverage before their plan generally will start to pay a share of their health care bills, up from 18 percent last year and 10 percent in 2006.
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) continue to dominate the employer market, enrolling six in 10 covered workers. Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) cover 20 percent of workers, with an additional 10 percent in Point-of-Service plans, and 8 percent in consumer-directed plans, which are high-deductible plans that also include a tax-preferred savings options such as a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
  • Many businesses are struggling with ways to curb their health care costs, including offering high-deductible plans for workers, though relatively few (2 percent) expect to drop health benefits altogether.

Now in its 11th year, the survey is a joint project of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association. The survey, conducted between January and May, included 3,188 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees.

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