Study: Health Insurance Costs Up 9 Percent in One Year

| by Michael Allen

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual study of health insurance costs, the average cost for employer-provided family health care insurance has hit $15,073 a year, an increase of nine percent.

Kaiser said that one to two percentage points of the nine percent increase can be blamed on the Obama administration's sweeping 2010 health care reform act, which increased insurance coverage for preventive medical services and allowed families to keep grown children under 26 on their health plans.

The employer contribution to insurance costs is more than double that of employees, but worker contributions are increasing faster, and rose 131 percent in the 10 years to 2011, the Kaiser study showed.

The study also said that more companies and employees were agreeing to higher deductibles, which is the the portion the insured person must pay toward medical treatment before insurance covers the bill.

"Critics of the national health reform law passed in 2010 like to blame everything but the weather on 'Obamacare,' but... regardless of how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, its effect on premiums this year is modest. While the conventional wisdom is that private insurance does a better job of controlling costs, the opposite is true," said Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation chief executive.

Writing on the White House website blog, White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle said the study was a "look backward" (as most studies are) and the sharp increase came as insurers made assumptions in 2009 that medical care costs would spike upward and that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act would add to insurer costs.

"In the end, both assumptions were wrong, but insurance companies still charged high premiums and earned impressive profits," she wrote.