The annual Kaiser Family Foundation Survey on health insurance premiums has found that employers paid 9% more for family coverage in 2011 than in the previous year. Last year health insurance premiums went up only three percent. On average, family coverage costs $15, 073 a year, an increase of almost double from 2001. Employers are not shouldering the growing burden alone. Kaiser’s survey revealed employees are paying over $4,000 dollars a year for their job-based insurance, on top of out-of-pocket co-pays, deductibles, and other healthcare costs. The reasons for the spike are not clear-cut, but Kaiser attributed 1 to 2% percentage points of it to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration is on the defensive. White House Chief Deputy of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle took to the White House blog yesterday, summing up the administration’s response as, “The Kaiser report is informative, but it’s a look backwards.” The administration believes its Affordable Care Act will bring premiums down, soon. DeParle argues insurance companies overestimated the costs associated with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, so premiums went up without an equal increase in cost. She cites the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that for the first half of this year, the health insurance employer cost index “was the lowest it has been in over 10 years.” Also, for 13 of 14 major insurance companies, profits were 45% higher in the first quarter of 2011 than expected. However the belief that healthcare reform is driving up costs remains strong. Katy Mahoney, Executive Director for Health Policy at the US Chamber of Commerce told NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday that Obama’s regulations are to blame .
GUEST: Dr. Rachel Nardin is Chief of Neurology at Cambridge Health Alliance, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and co-chair of the Massachusetts chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.
Find out more at www.pnhp.org.