Study: Employers' Health Care Costs Up 9 Percent

A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows health care costs for employers rose sharply this year — about 9 percent over last year — outpacing the rise in wages and general inflation. The average cost of family coverage through an employer-sponsored plan now totals more than $15,000 a year.

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DAVID GREENE, Host:

NPR's business news starts with rising health care costs.

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GREENE: A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows health care costs for employers rose sharply this year, about 9 percent over last year. That's outpacing the rise in wages and general inflation. The average cost of family coverage through an employer-sponsored plan now totals more than $15,000 a year. Now, if you're lucky, your employer is paying most of that, but the burden is clearly growing for both businesses and their workers.

As for why we're seeing this spike, Kaiser estimates up to 2 percent of the increase comes from extra coverage required by the new health care law, something that we expected. Most of the increase, though, is related to projections by insurance companies for how much health care they think employees would need. Also, health care costs overall are rising, and insurers are making a more aggressive drive to increase their profits.

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