By: Carolyn Johnson
While politicians have been embroiled in a fiery debate over President Obama's signature health-care law, a quiet but profound shift is fundamentally reshaping how health insurance works for the roughly 155 million Americans who receive coverage through their employers.
A national survey of employer health benefits released Wednesday shows how much deductibles — the health-care costs that people must pay out of their own pockets before insurance kicks in — have shot up. In 2016, 4 in 5 workers had a deductible as part of their individual coverage, averaging $1,478. During the past five years, deductibles have grown 10 times as fast as inflation and nearly six times as fast as wages, according to the new report.
For the first time, employer-sponsored health plans also reached a new benchmark: Half of all workers who receive insurance through their employers faced a deductible of at least $1,000 a year for individual coverage — up from just 10 percent of workers in 2006, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. The average deductible for individuals in firms with fewer than 200 employees is $2,069.