KFF: Modest increases in premiums likely won’t last for long

Average annual premiums in 2022 reached $7,911 for single coverage and $22,463 for family coverage, a new survey showed. This is only a slight increase from last year at $7,739 and $22,221, respectively. But that modest rise in premiums likely won’t last.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report, released Thursday, included 2,188 non-federal public and private firms that responded to the entire survey. It included another 2,917 firms that responded to one question about offering coverage.

The survey found that the increase is less than the 8% increase in inflation and less than the 6.7% increase in employees’ wages in the last year.

“Employer costs for this year were largely set last year, before inflation became a major economic concern and after the Covid-19 pandemic led to a temporary slowdown in utilization of health care services,” according to a KFF news release. 

But inflation and the tight labor market may cause these premiums to rise in 2023, said KFF President and CEO Drew Altman in a statement.

“Employers are already concerned about what they pay for health premiums, but this could be the calm before the storm, as recent inflation suggests that larger increases are imminent,” Altman said. “Given the tight labor market and rising wages, it will be tough for employers to shift costs onto workers when costs spike.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Employees of small employers, or those that have less than 200 workers, pay more in healthcare costs than those of large employers. For family premiums, workers at small companies pay $7,556 toward premiums, compared with $5,580 for workers at big companies. For single coverage, small firm workers and large firm workers pay about the same toward their premiums. However, the average single deductible is $2,543 for workers at small firms and $1,493 for workers at large firms.
  • About half, or 48%, of large employers, reported an increase in the number of employees using mental health services. Additionally, 29% of workers are requesting family leave because of mental health problems.
  • Substance use is a concern for many large employers. About 14% said they’ve seen an increase in the number of workers accessing substance use services. Another 43% said they are at least somewhat concerned by the rise of substance use conditions.
  • About 27% of large employers added mental health providers to their network, but 30% still said their network doesn’t have enough. Another 47% said telehealth is a vital way to increase access to mental health services.

“Many large employers are struggling to add enough mental health and substance use providers to meet their workers’ growing needs,” said Gary Claxton, a KFF senior vice president, in the news release. “Most consider telemedicine to be an important part of the solution.”

Getty images, utah778

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