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Health Insurance Premiums Top $15K for Family of 4

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, September 28, 2011

Health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance posted an unexpected increase in 2011 according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey released Tuesday.

The average annual premium for family coverage increased by 9% to $15,073 in 2011. The growth rate was 3% in 2010. Premiums increased significantly faster than workers' wages (2.1%) and general inflation (3.2%). Since 2001, family premiums have increased 113%, compared with 34% for workers' wages and 27% for inflation.

Expect finger pointing to begin in earnest among the usual cost drivers: hospitals, health plans,  and physicians.

Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit that represents large employers on healthcare issues, cautioned against assigning responsibility for the premium increases to any single component of the healthcare industry. "Everything contributes," she said noting that Americans pay about $20 billion annually for unnecessary services.

"At NBGH we talk to stakeholders all the time and everyone has their own ideas about what drives healthcare costs," Darling stated.

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