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Utahns hit with higher healthcare costs and premiums

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

A new report shows Utahns are getting hit by higher healthcare costs, higher premiums, and higher out-of-pocket expenses.

The Utah Foundation says premiums for healthcare plans at work rose by about one-third from 2006 to 2016. Research analyst Sam Brucker says it might have been much larger if not for high-deductible plans.

“Employers are shifting the cost to the employee,” she said.

Brucker says the high-deductible plans are fine until they actually need to be used.

“This could be a high cost burden for Utah families, this additional out-of-pocket expense,” she said.

Key findings of the report include:

About 61% of Utahns purchase health insurance through employers. This is the highest in the nation and significantly higher than the U.S. average of 49%.

Enrollment in high-deductible plans in Utah has increased from 3% to 30% during the past decade.

The average total premium for an employer-sponsored individual plan in Utah increased by an inflation-adjusted 34% from 2006 to 2016, and 30% for a family plan.

Despite significant increases in premiums since 2006 in the employer-sponsored market, the increases are modest compared to the increases in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The average deductible for individual and family employer-sponsored plans in Utah both nearly doubled from 2006-2016.

On average, premiums for both individuals and families with employer-sponsored health insurance in Utah remain below a broadly accepted affordability benchmark of 10% of median income.

The benchmark silver plan on the federal Marketplace in Salt Lake County increased 62% from 2017 to 2018, in part to compensate for the loss of federal cost-sharing reduction subsidies in the Marketplace.

Half of Utah Medicare beneficiaries are low- to moderate-income, but do not qualify for Medicaid, potentially leaving them with high medical cost-burdens.

In recent years, the key factors increasing insurance premiums nationally include: the rising cost of health care, increased risk in the health insurance pool, the loss of federal subsidies, uncertainty in national health care policy and consolidation in the insurance industry.