By Robert Preidt, Health Day reporter
THURSDAY, November 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Health insurance has become slightly more expensive during the pandemic: New survey shows annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have increased by 4%, to reach an average of $ 22,221 this year.
Of this amount, employees paid an average of almost $ 6,000 for the cost of the coverage, while employers paid the remainder of the premium.
But there was good news: The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey of nearly 1,700 small and large businesses also showed that there had been an increase in occupational health benefits such as mental health services and telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In a year when the pandemic continued to cause health and economic disruption, there have been only modest changes in the cost of employer-provided health benefits,” said Gary Claxton, vice -Senior President of KFF and Director of the Health Care Marketplace Project.
âSome employers have adapted their plans to deal with mental health issues and other challenges their workers face as a result of COVID-19,â Claxton added in a KFF press release.
The 4% increase in contributions is close to increasing workers’ wages (5%) and inflation (1.9%) this year, but average family contributions have jumped 47% since 2011, exceeding wage increases (31%) and inflation (19%), the survey found.
Meanwhile, the average single deductible is $ 1,669 for workers who have one, which is not much more than in 2020 ($ 1,644) or 2019 ($ 1,655), but significantly higher. than in 2011 ($ 991).
In 2021, 85% of covered workers had a deductible in their plan, up from 74% ten years ago.
Overall, the burden of deductibles has increased by 92% among all covered workers over the past decade.
The newspaper Health affairs publishes an article online and in its December issue with selected results of the survey.
The brightest point in the results was for mental health coverage.
Among companies with 50 or more workers that offer health benefits, 39% said they changed their mental health and addiction benefits during the pandemic.
For example, 31% gave workers more means to access mental health services, such as telemedicine, and 16% offered new mental health resources, such as an employee assistance program.
Other changes included expanding mental health and addiction service providers within the network (6%), removing or reducing cost sharing for related services (4%) or increasing coverage of off-grid services (3%).
Overall, 12% of employers with 50 or more workers providing health benefits said there had been an increase in the use of mental health services by their registrants. Among the largest employers (1,000 or more workers), 38% reported such an increase.
âThe extension of telemedicine and mental health benefits has been important in meeting the needs of employees and their families in difficult times,â said Claxton and colleagues. “These types of changes make sense not because employers want to spend more, but because employers want their employees to see their health insurance programs as ‘benefits’ and value them as such.”
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation, press release, November 10, 2021
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