Make us your home page
Instagram

Expect less health coverage, at a higher cost, in 2009

Most workers will see "skimpier and less comprehensive" employer-based health insurance coverage next year, according to an outlook released recently. Drew Altman, chief executive of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, said moderate increases in employers' health care benefits costs — an 8 percent average increase expected — obscured the true effect on employees.

"There is a notable growth in high-deductible health plans," Altman said in releasing the annual "Survey of Employer Health Benefits." "Many working people will have higher out-of-pocket costs."

Kaiser and the Health Research & Educational Trust collaborated on a survey that shows the long-term trend of escalating health benefits costs continues to outpace growth in average workers' wages.

Since 1999, the average annual employee contribution for family coverage premiums increased from $1,543 to $3,354, and the average employer contribution for such coverage increased from $4,247 to $9,325.

Over that time, overall inflation has been 29 percent, average workers' earnings have gone up 35 percent, and the cost of health insurance premiums has gone up 119 percent. "Premiums are increasing 3 1/2 times faster than wage growth."

In a conference call with reporters, Altman said the more rapid rise in premiums means "people are feeling the pain on top of all the other economic problems today."

Megan McHugh, the research director for the trust, said the trend toward higher deductibles, coupled with a continued rise in prescription drug prices, was most affecting low-wage workers, who are least likely to have employer-sponsored health benefits or who must pay a higher out-of-pocket percentage for their health care.

Also affected are employees of small companies (those with fewer than 200 employees) who are likely to have less comprehensive benefit plans or are more likely to be moved into consumer-directed health plans.

Researchers said there were clear differences between health coverage provided in small and larger companies, with a larger percentage of workers in small companies being enrolled in high-deductible plans.

Expect less health coverage, at a higher cost, in 2009 10/31/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2008 3:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  2. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares nearly 25 percent

    Business

    CLEARWATER — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  3. CapTrust moving headquarters to downtown Park Tower

    Corporate

    TAMPA — CAPTRUST Advisors, a Raleigh, N.C.-based investment consulting firm, is moving its Tampa offices into Park Tower. CapTrust's new space will be 10,500 square feet — the entirety of the 18th floor of the downtown building, which is scheduled to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation by 2018.

    CAPTRUST Advisors' Tampa location is moving into Park Tower. Pictured is the current CapTrust location at 102 W. Whiting St. | [Times file photo]
  4. Good news: Tampa Bay no longer a major foreclosure capital of the country

    Real Estate

    Once in the top five nationally for foreclosure filings, the Tampa Bay area no longer makes even the top 25.

    A few short years ago, Tampa Bay was a national hub for foreclosures. Not any more. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]
  5. Tampa-based start-up takes on Airbnb by promoting inclusion, diversity

    Tourism

    NEW TAMPA — Last May, Rohan Gilkes attempted to book a property in Idaho on the home-sharing platform Airbnb. After two failed attempts, the African-American entrepreneur asked a white friend to try, and she was "instantly" approved for the same property and dates.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. Rohan Gilkes, the founder, said he created the organization after several negative experiences with Airbnb.
[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]