Health insurance costs increased 10 percent in the last year, which makes this the third year of double-digit increases, according to the Mountain States Employers Council.
While Colorado Springs saw an average price increase of 10 percent, Northern Colorado’s employers saw increases of 12 percent, up from 10 percent in 2010. The average increase for employers on the Western Slope was 8 percent.
Employers continued to pick up most of the tab for health insurance – in spite of those rising costs. On average, Colorado employers covered 84 percent of the premium for employee coverage and 67 percent for family coverage. Health insurance continues to make up a bigger percentage of employer payroll.
The total cost of insurance, as a percentage of total payroll, now equals 10.7 percent, up from 9.6 percent in 2006.
“It’s an ongoing struggle because health care really is a benefit that workers expect,” said Patty Goodwin, director of surveys for Mountain States Employers Council. “I think we’ll see employers continue to find ways to offer coverage, while working harder to contain costs.”
To control costs, employers have raised deductibles, co-pay levels and increased employee contributions for premiums. According to the survey, the average monthly premium for single employee coverage paid by the employee is $91.47, up from $82 last year, and an increase of 24.5 percent from 2006, when the average premium was $73.46
The average monthly premium for family coverage paid by the employee is $462.55, a 27.1 percent jump from $363.82 in 2006.
The survey revealed that employers are continuing to share costs by offering four “tiers” of coverage with varying costs, including an employee and children option, which, by excluding spouses, is often less expensive than family or employee plus spouse coverage. Seventy-four percent of Colorado employers offer four types of coverage, instead of just single and family plans.
Consumer-driven health care plans, such as Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Accounts, are also gaining ground with employers. According to the survey, 39 percent of respondents are offering such a plan and 25 percent are planning to offer such a plan in the future.
On average, employers passed along 38 percent of the health care insurance increases to employees. Last year, the percentage increase borne by employees was 34 percent.
Overall, 629 employers in Colorado and Wyoming participated in the Mountain States Employers Council survey, which has been conducted annually for the past 64 years.