Thanks to the ACA, Premium Increases Are Slowing Down

Posted September, 11 2012 by arianne

Today, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) released the 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in 2012, premium increases are at an all time low and workers are getting more affordable benefits from their employers. The survey found that employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745, an increase of 4 percent from last year. Workers pay, on average, $4,316 toward the cost of their coverage.

Fewer plans are considered grandfathered in 2012 than in 2011 (48% down from 56%), resulting in more workers benefiting from preventive care with no co-pays and access to an external appeals process, keys provisions of the ACA that have been implemented for non-grandfathered plans.  For plans to remain grandfathered, employers must not make significant changes to their plans to reduce benefits or increase employee costs.

According to the survey, 2.9 million young adults are currently enrolled on their parent’s coverage because of the dependent coverage for children up to age 26 provision in the ACA. This provision has largely contributed to the decline in the percentage of uninsured adults ages 19-25 over the past year, from 33.9% to 27.9%.

Unfortunately, the survey showed that workers with coverage at lower-wage firms (where at least 35 percent of workers earn $24,000 or less a year) may fare worse with some employer-sponsored health benefits than workers at higher-wage firms (where at least 35 percent of their workers earn $55,000 or more a year).

  • Workers at lower-wage firms on average pay $1,000 more each year for family coverage than workers at higher-wage firms.
  • Workers at lower-wage firms are more likely to face high deductibles than those at higher-wage firms.
  • Large employers are more likely than small ones to allow workers to pay their share of premiums with pre-tax income (91 percent, compared to 41 percent) and to contribute pre-tax dollars to Flexible Spending Accounts (76 percent, compared to 17 percent).

As states and the feds continue to implement the provisions of the ACA, workers will reap the benefits through their employer-sponsored coverage. We look forward to the 2014 survey, when many more substantial provisions of the ACA will be in effect. For the impatient in the audience, tomorrow the U.S. Census Bureau will release its Report on Health Insurance Coverage on 2011.