"The single biggest issue in health care for most Americans is that their health costs are growing much faster than their wages are," said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which conducted the survey.
The average amount an employee now shells out each year to obtain family coverage is just north of $6,000, the investigators found. The average total cost of that insurance actually tops $20,500, with the balance picked up by employers.
That represents a 54% hike in family premiums since 2009, the survey report said. And employees are also now paying 71% more for their share of the total cost than they did a decade ago. By comparison, during the same period, wages and inflation went up just 26% and 20%, respectively.
Deductibles have also skyrocketed, the survey found. While the average annual deductible for an individual hovered just over $800 in 2009, that figure has more than doubled, to over $1,600 in 2019.
The increase was even more stark among those who work for relatively small companies. Almost half (45%) of those who work for a business that employs fewer than 200 workers now face a deductible of at least $2,000. That's a 400% increase from 2009.
And while just 63% of Americans had a deductible to deal with 10 years ago, today that figure is 82%, the report noted.
The report also observed that workers who earn less are being asked to pay a greater share of their total family premium. And that means that low-wage workers are increasingly forgoing insurance entirely.
"Costs are prohibitive when workers making $25,000 a year have to shell out $7,000 a year just for their share of family premiums," Altman noted in a foundation news release.
Report lead author and foundation senior vice president Gary Claxton explained that "employer-sponsored coverage doesn't come cheap for employers or workers, and many who work at low-wage firms or small businesses likely find it too costly to cover their families."
In the findings published online Sept. 25 in the journal Health Affairs, the team noted that about six in 10 businesses do offer separate dental insurance, while just under half (46%) offer vision coverage. But not all employers contribute to premium payments, leaving many workers holding the whole bag when it comes to paying for that kind of additional coverage.