Health Costs Jump Three Times the Inflation Rate

Employers and their workers in southeast Wisconsin paid their smallest increase in health costs in at least 10 years – but it was still three times the inflation rate. An annual survey by H-C Trends showed that families in the Milwaukee area paid 5-to-7 percent more than a year ago, after double-digit hikes in previous years. And the largest companies had the smallest jumps in health costs. Families paid around 15-thousand dollars for their coverage this year. And singles paid in the neighborhood of 58-hundred dollars. The survey shows that employees paid an average of 20-to-25-percent of their premiums. But for those making 44-thousand dollars a year, the average cost of family insurance gobbled up over a-third of their wages. The Milwaukee area health survey showed that almost one-of-every-five employers increased their workers’ deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. H-C Trends said the average family deductible is now 42-hundred-50 dollars a year. Milwaukee benefit consultant Rich Yurkowitz says the smaller cost increases are partially due to the shaky economy – and the fact that employee wellness programs are starting to show success. He also said higher deductibles are resulting in fewer doctor visits. And health providers appear to be working harder to limit their cost increases.