Cost of Health Insurance Continues to Soar

There is more bad news for both employers and employees. A new survey released this week shows that the cost of health insurance in the U.S. continues to rise, and the rate of growth doesn't seem to be letting up at all.

The survey, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, shows the cost of health insurance rose 13.9% in the last 12 months - the largest increase in over a decade.

The survey also shows that health care premiums have risen each of the last seven years, and this is the third year in a row that the annual rate of increase is above 10%.

"A key finding, which is not entirely surprising but is still terribly important for employers and workers and the economy, is that we did not find any letup in the rate of increase of health care costs in 2003," said Drew E. Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Other major findings include:

  • Many employers plan to charge their employers more for health insurance next year.

  • Two-thirds of employers are seeking alternatives to help reduce their costs.

  • Most employers continue to view health care coverage as an important component of their benefits package and do not anticipate dropping it from the mix.

  • The percentage of companies that offer ongoing health care coverage for their retirees continues to be in decline.

  • Insurance premium cost sharing by employees will be higher and will be progressively more complex.

Highlights of the survey can be accessed on the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site.

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