Source: Daily Record
New Jersey workers paid an average of $4,900 for family health coverage last year, up from about $3,000 in 2006, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund said.
That increase came even though the growth of health premiums slowed in the years after the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — was enacted in 2010.
The rise was even more painful when measured as a share of family incomes, researcher David Radley said.
“Families are facing a bigger burden today — even though the growth in health care costs has slowed — because wages have remained largely flat,” Radley said.
As a result, premiums and deductibles for New Jersey workers last year ate up an average 9.1 percent of annual household incomes, up from 5 percent in 2006. Painful as these costs are, it’s even worse in the rest of the nation, where incomes are generally lower. Nationwide, premiums and deductibles add up to 10.1 percent of household income.
The Commonwealth Fund’s report came as the federal government announced increases of up to 25 percent in premiums on the public health insurance exchange, which serves about 10 million people who don’t have employer health coverage. But the Commonwealth Fund’s study focused on employer plans, which serve a much larger share of the population, about 154 million people.
The study found that employers were able to follow Obamacare’s new requirements with little additional cost or trouble. For example, the Affordable Care Act requires employers to offer coverage to their workers’ children until age 26 and provide preventive care at no extra cost to employees.
Some observers expected the additional regulations to dramatically raise employers’ costs, possibly leading some to drop coverage for their workers.
“We just have not seen that,” researcher Sara Collins said. “There just hasn’t been large-scale disruption in the employer group market.”
Collins said some of the price upheaval in the public exchanges may reflect the fact it’s a much smaller and newer market than the employer-based market.
“Insurance carriers are getting an understanding of their risk pool” in the exchanges, she said.
The century-old Commonwealth Fund is based in New York City and promotes access, quality and efficiency in health care.