STUDY: Workers’ Health Care Costs Are Surging While Their Wages Stagnate

Adding to the ongoing indictment of unfair cost-sharing in employer-sponsored health insurance, a new study from the Commonwealth Fund finds that employees’ contributions to health plans has skyrocketed — even though wages haven’t.

According to the report, workers in every single state have seen their health care contributions to family health plans increase by 74 percent since 2003, while the average premiums for such plans have risen by 62 percent in the same time period. At the same time, the number of workers forced to pay deductibles on their coverage has appreciated significantly, and the average workers’ deductible has doubled — all while wages saw a meager 10 percent increase over the last eight years:

Saddled with the rising cost of health care, employers have increasingly resorted to pushing their coverage costs onto workers through asymmetric cost-sharing and a growing reliance on risky, inefficient high-deductible insurance plans. The Commonwealth Fund’s report confirms earlier findings that worker contributions to premiums have been increasing at a faster rate than general premium inflation, despite the fact that corporate profits remain at an all-time high and workers’ wages have sunk to an all-time low.

And although Obamacare will actually reduce health care costs for small employers — while increasing larger employers’ costs only marginally — that hasn’t stopped some businesses from trying to frame the landmark health care law as a fiscal burden, and facing public backlash after threatening to cut their employees’ hours and wages.