Health insurance premiums outstrip wages, inflation plus geeky tidbit

Premiums for employer-sponsored health care rose 4 percent for families in 2012, up to $15,745. Single coverage rose 3 percent to $5,429. The good news is that the price retreated from 9 and 8 percent hikes in 2011, when, it appears insurers were busy setting up their plans to accommodate the changes based on the Affordable Care Act.

This statistic comes courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust which produces an annual report. Some headlines are perpetual stunners, and chief among them the depressing chart that shows the increase in health insurance premiums compared to the increase in wages and inflation. Since 1999, premium costs are up 180 percent, with employee share up 172 percent. But wages haven't gone up that fast. Wages are up 47 percent since then, with inflation at 38 percent. In 1999, family coverage cost $5,791, with single coverage at $2,196.

There are many other interesting statistics in the report and you can read more in my story in Wednesday's Inquirer. I'll put the link in later. Here's a little geeky one that probably won't make it into the newspaper.

Many firms self-insure, meaning they pay employee medical bills as they come in instead of paying an insurance company a premium to pay the claims. But to protect themselves against a super tough scenario, they buy stoploss insurance, aptly named. Think of it as having a giant deductible. How big is the average deductible? According to the report, the average per employee claims cost at which stoploss insurance kicks in is about $223,000.