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Workers Bear Larger Share of Health Premium Costs

The average employee contribution toward premiums for family coverage climbed 14 percent this year to nearly $4,000, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust released Thursday. Contributions for single coverage grew 15 percent.

(AP) — Researchers say workers are paying a larger portion of health insurance costs as businesses, trying to ride out the economic downturn, shift more of the burden to their employees.

The average employee contribution toward premiums for family coverage climbed 14 percent this year to nearly $4,000, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust released Thursday. Contributions for single coverage grew 15 percent.

Total premiums rose a modest 3 percent for family coverage and 5 percent for single employees. But Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman said companies passed most of those increases on to workers instead of absorbing them as they usually do.

The nonprofit Kaiser and the research trust surveyed more than 3,000 randomly selected companies from across the country earlier this year.

Researchers found that businesses still pay at least 70 percent of the total premium, on average, for their workers. But they're asking workers to chip in more, and that goes beyond increasing the premium contribution.

"The coverage that employees get is looking less and less like the coverage that their parents used to get," Altman said.

A growing percentage of workers are covered by health insurance that requires them to pay a deductible of $1,000 or more before most coverage starts. The increase is most striking with smaller companies, where 46 percent of workers are enrolled in high-deductible plans, up from 16 percent in 2006.

At companies with 200 or more employees, 17 percent of covered workers had high-deductible plans, up from 6 percent four years ago.

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