First the good news.
The 14th annual Milliman Medical Index reports that healthcare cost growth continues a decade-long slowing trend for a family of four enrolled in an employer-sponsored preferred provider plan.
Now the bad news.
Even with slower growth, healthcare costs for that family will increase 5.4% in 2014, which represents an average bump of $1,185 per family and a total cost of $23,215, with employers paying $13,520 and employees paying $9,695, according to Milliman, the Seattle-based healthcare actuarial firm.
Although that 5.4% growth is the lowest cost increase since MMI began keeping track in 2002, it also represents the ninth straight year in which annual costs have increased by at least $1,100. In 2013 growth was 6.3%, and in the past decade the cost of healthcare for that family of four as measured by MMI has increased by 107%, from $11,192 in 2004 to $23,215 in 2014.
"It's a shocking amount of money," MMI co-author Chris Girod said in a telephone interview. "At some point how can a family afford this stuff? Their costs keep going up $1,100 a year. They aren't paying for all of it, but as we saw in this recent economic slowdown that is a time when employers may push more of the costs onto their employees."