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Employer-Sponsored Health Costs Rose Modestly In 2014


Health care costs have been rising, but not rising as quickly as they used to. We just learned that the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance rose just 3 percent this year, fitting that trend.

Here's NPR's John Ydstie.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Though the average premium cost is up modestly this year, it doesn't mean covering yourself or your family under your employer's plan is cheap. The average annual cost of family coverage is now just over $16,800. The average employee contributes a little more than $4,800 towards that and the employer pays the rest. But that doesn't count co-pays and deductibles, says Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the sponsors of the survey. Claxton says those out-of-pocket costs have gone up a lot over the past five years.

GARY CLAXTON: The average deductible in those plans has gone up from $826 five years ago to $1,217 this year.

YDSTIE: Claxton says the rapid rise in that cost-sharing by consumers is probably one reason for the modest growth in premiums.

CLAXTON: When people face higher cost sharing, they use less health care. They use less care and costs don't go up as much.

YDSTIE: Claxton says it was somewhat surprising that premiums didn't increase more. After all, some provisions of the Affordable Care Act that take effect this year were expected to put upward pressure on costs for employers.

John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.