Employers Expand Health Benefits During the Pandemic

Employers Expand Health Benefits During the Pandemic. A left hand holding a health insurance card that has Health Insurance, John Doe printed on it.The recent release of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual employer health benefits survey put data behind a number of trends that surfaced during the pandemic.

But a deeper look at the trends behind the numbers illustrates why many employees are feeling the pinch of rising health care costs and higher deductibles.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 4% to an average of more than $22,000, with employees contributing nearly $6,000 of that cost. At the same time, wages rose 5% and inflation increased 1.9%.
  • The average annual single deductible is now $1,669 — roughly what it has been over the last two years but up more than 68% since 2011.
  • Among employers with at least 50 workers, 65% changed their telehealth coverage, 55% altered their wellness programs and 39% changed the ways through which enrollees could access mental health or substance-use benefits, including through telehealth.
  • Among employers with 500 or more employees that offer prescription drug benefits in 2021, 18% have programs that exclude subsidies from prescription drug manufacturers, such as coupons, from counting toward an enrollee’s deductible or out-of-pocket limit.

All told, the growing share of workers with rising average deductibles over the past decade has increased the burden of deductibles by 92% across all covered workers, Health Affairs reports.

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