Average Health Insurance Premiums Rise Slightly

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Insurance companies raised their rates for premiums by about 3 percent this year for people covered by employer health insurance, which includes most Americans, according to a new report. The average family premium is $16,834, and the average employee pays $4,823 of that. “Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the survey, said in a statement. Eighty percent of all covered workers must pay an average deductible of $1,217.

It’s a good baseline to use for measuring how much Obamacare may affect health insurance premiums. A second survey by Avalere Health looks at the health insurance exchanges, where about 10 million people are buying health insurance this year. It finds two companies have dominated in 12 states — Blue Cross Blue Shield and WellPoint. Nine of the companies that got the most new customers have asked state insurance commissions for rate increases of 9 percent or more for 2015. That might be because it was difficult to predict how much it would cost to cover the new customers, said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere. “Consumers should look at their plan premiums carefully and consider whether they should shop for a lower premium option in 2015 rather than re-enroll, especially if they qualify for federal premium subsidies,” she advises.


— Maggie Fox