Aug. 20—The rise in health insurance costs continued its historically slow increase in 2013, although enrollees are bearing an increasing share of the cost, according to a new benefits survey.

The Kaiser Family Foundation(KFF)/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey released Aug. 20 found premiums for family coverage rose 4 percent this year—the same rate of increase as in 2012. The relatively small increase in insurance costs was the latest indication of a slowdown in healthcare inflation in recent years after at least two decades of rapid increase. However, the insurance increase still outstripped the 1.8 percent increase in workers’ wages and 1.1 percent general inflation that occurred in the same time frame.

“We are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs without cutting back benefits for workers,” Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D., said in a release.

The 15th annual Kaiser/HRET survey of more than 2,000 small and large employers aimed to identify trends in employer-sponsored health insurance costs and coverage.

The slower healthcare inflation was accompanied by workers’ share of the costs increasing in several ways. For instance, the share of workers with an annual deductible that they must pay before most services are covered by their health plans increased from 72 percent in 2012 to 78 percent in 2013. The average deductible in 2013 for individual workers’ coverage was $1,135, similar to the $1,097 average deductible in 2012. The survey also found the share of workers with deductibles of at least $1,000 rose from 34 percent to 38 percent of all covered workers. 

The rate of employers offering health insurance to their workers was down slightly, from 61 percent in 2012 to 57 percent of firms in 2013.

The survey was conducted from January to May 2013 and included responses from 2,067 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees and another 881 who responded to a single question about offering coverage.

Publication Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013