The average premium for family coverage in employer health plans is up about 4% this year to more than $21,000 — and employers are picking up more of the tab.



A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, D.C Jan. 31, 2020.


© EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS
A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington, D.C Jan. 31, 2020.

Workers on average aren’t being asked to pay more in premiums for family coverage and those with individual coverage through their work aren’t seeing increases in deductibles, according survey results Thursday from the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation.

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The findings speak to the stability of health benefits in the pre-pandemic economy when employers were competing for talent in a tight labor market, said Matthew Rae, an associate director at the foundation, which has surveyed employers on health plan costs for 22 years. Obviously, the current labor market is vastly different, Rae noted, with last month’s unemployment rate roughly twice the comparable figure last year.

“The premiums and health plans that we were asking about were plans that employers were setting a year ago when we had historically low unemployment,” Rae said.

“I would expect that not that many employers are going to make huge changes in the generosity of their plans over the next couple of months,” he said. “But the economic situation is really hard to put your finger on. It could be that employers will have to think about the generosity of their plans if they are really facing a lot of other costs.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation survey tacks trends in the market for employer-sponsored health plans, which provide coverage for more than 150 million Americans. Employer coverage is the largest single source of insurance in the U.S., with more enrollees than the federal Medicare program.

When Kaiser first surveyed employers on premium costs

The average premium for family coverage in employer health plans is up about 4% this year to more than $21,000 — and employers are picking up more of the tab.

Workers on average aren’t being asked to pay more in premiums for family coverage and those with individual coverage through their work aren’t seeing increases in deductibles, according survey results Thursday from the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation.

The findings speak to the stability of health benefits in the pre-pandemic economy when employers were competing for talent in a tight labor market, said Matthew Rae, an associate director at the foundation, which has surveyed employers on health plan costs for 22 years. Obviously, the current labor market is vastly different, Rae noted, with last month’s unemployment rate roughly twice the comparable figure last year.

“The premiums and health plans that we were asking about were plans that employers were setting a year ago when we had historically low unemployment,” Rae said.

“I would expect that not that many employers are going to make huge changes in the generosity of their plans over the next couple of months,” he said. “But the economic situation is really hard to put your finger on. It could be that employers will have to think about the generosity of their plans if they are really facing a lot of other costs.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation survey tacks trends in the market for employer-sponsored health plans, which provide coverage for more than 150 million Americans. Employer coverage is the largest single source of insurance in the U.S., with more enrollees than the federal Medicare program.

When Kaiser first surveyed employers on premium costs in 1999, the average premium for family coverage was $5,791 — a fraction of this year’s average cost of $21,342. Just since 2010, family

Pandemics became the top concern for insurance professionals this year as the COVID-19 crisis roils the industry worldwide.

Infectious diseases and pandemics were ranked as the most significant risks to society over the next five to 10 years in a study published Thursday by French insurer AXA SA. That’s a reversal from last year, when climate change was seen as the biggest concern. (Editor’s note: The report is available to download here).

COVID-19 is proving to be a major challenge for insurers, especially those that provide cover for canceled events such as sports matches and concerts. Disputes over coverage have led some policyholders to take legal action, with AXA recently losing a lawsuit against five restaurant operators. The insurer said it will appeal the ruling.

The survey of 2,600 insurance professionals in 53 countries, found that 56% of the respondents consider pandemics one of the top five emerging risks, up from 23% in 2019. Climate change is now the second biggest worry overall, but the views vary geographically as it remains the top priority in Europe but falls to the third place in the U.S. and Asia.

The reduced emphasis on climate change “is concerning, especially among our American and Asian respondents, as we believe that shorter-term issues around the pandemic should not completely overshadow longer-term threats,” AXA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl said in a statement.

The European insurance industry has been working on ideas to develop state-backed solutions to protect businesses against future pandemics. The French government, which has sought public comment on a series of proposals this summer, hopes to complete work on a coverage plan by the end of the year.

Photograph: Medics from Beijing Fengsheng Special Hospital of Traditional Medical Traumatology and Orthopaedics on June 24, 2020 prepare for their shift at the Jinrong Street