On September 15, 2009, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust released its 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey. The annual survey, which is available online (www.kff.org), was conducted between January and May of 2009 and included 3,188 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees. The survey provides a detailed picture of the private health insurance market and the cost of providing health insurance coverage to employees.

Some of the survey’s key findings include:  

  1. premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $13,375 annually for family coverage, with employers paying on average $9,860 and employees paying on average $3,515,  
  2. 21% of the survey’s participants indicated that they are very likely to raise employee premium contributions next year and 16% said they are very likely to raise deductibles,  
  3. only 60% of firms offered health benefits to any of their employees,  
  4. 46% of the firms with 3-9 employee offered health benefits,  
  5. the vast majority of workers faced a three or four tier drug co-payment system,  
  6. among workers at large firms (200 or more employees), 13% faced deductibles at or above $1,000 and at small firms (3-199 employees) 40% face deductibles at or above $1,000,  
  7. preferred provider organizations covered about 60% of all employees,  
  8. in network physician office visit co-payments averaged $20 for primary care and $28 for specialty care, and  
  9. more than 58% of the employers offering health benefits offered at least one of the following wellness benefits: weight loss program, gym memberships or on-site exercise facilities, smoking cessation program, personal health coaching, classes in nutrition and healthy living, web based resources for healthy living, or a wellness newsletter.  

As insurers begin to issue their renewal increases for calendar year plans, we recommend that all employers download and review the survey to compare how their group plan and cost sharing arrangements compare to the surveyed participants. This survey information may be very valuable whether you are redesigning your plan to reduce costs or need to explain to employees why you have decided to take in a particular action.