The amount workers contributed to their health insurance premiums fell slightly in 2018 even as overall costs went up, according to data released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The latest report, which examines health insurance people get from their jobs, found that the cost of health insurance for an employee's premiums averaged $6,896 in 2018, with workers paying $1,186 of that. In 2017, the plans averaged a $6,690 year and workers paid $1,213.
The trend was similar among family plans. Premiums averaged $19,616 in total for families in 2018, with workers paying for $5,547 of that and employers shouldering the rest. In 2017, the plans averaged $18,764 a year and workers paid $5,714.
The price of health insurance is not outpacing wages. While the average family premium increased 5 percent, workers' wages increased 2.6 percent and inflation increased 2.5 percent.
Employees also partially made up for the differences in premiums by taking on a bit more in deductibles, which are the limit in out-of-pocket costs that health insurance customers take on when they use medical care. The average deductible now stands at $1,573 for individual workers, similar to last year’s $1,505 average but up sharply from $735 in 2008.
“Health costs don’t rise in a vacuum," Kaiser Family Foundation president and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement. "As long as out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, drugs, surprise bills and more continue to outpace wage growth, people will be frustrated by their medical bills and see health costs as huge pocketbook and political issues."
In 2018, about 85 percent workers had a deductible, up from 81 percent last year. The percentage represents a surge from a decade ago, when only 59 percent of employees had a deductible.
Twenty-six percent of covered workers are in plans with a deductible of at least $2,000, up from 22 percent last year and 15 percent five years ago. About 29 percent of all workplaces also offer a savings option, such as a Health Savings Account, to help pay for these bills.
About half of people under the age of 65 in the U.S. are covered by health insurance that they get through their jobs. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been conducting the survey since 1999. The data were collected between January and July of 2018 among 4,070 companies.