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For people who get health care coverage through their jobs, the cost is rising

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

More than 150 million Americans get health insurance through their jobs. A new report just out this morning shows that monthly costs for those health plans rose this year. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin tells us that that could be the start of an upward trend.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Every year, a team from the nonpartisan health research group KFF calls companies all over the country to ask about their health plans and then analyzes the answers.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thank you for calling Haynes Group. Please listen carefully as our...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: One of the people who answered the survey this year was Maria Roy.

MARIA ROY: Maria, may I help you?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: She is VP of human resources for Haynes Inc., a family-owned quarry, retail and development business in Connecticut.

ROY: Our plan from 2023, the increase was 3 or 4%.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Another person KFF reached was Jennifer de la Fuente, controller for Tri-Fab Associates, a precision sheet metal and machining shop in Fremont, Calif. Their premiums went up even more.

JENNIFER DE LA FUENTE: So for 2023, it increased by, like, 6 or 7%.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Seven percent was actually the national average increase in premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2023. That's according to KFF's new analysis, co-authored by Matthew Rae.

MATTHEW RAE: Clearly, inflation has come with higher wage growth, and higher wage growth is what hits health care cost as all providers start asking for more money along the supply chain, and they have to pass it on to premiums. So that absolutely is having an effect on this number.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: He calls the 7% increase a huge jump, but it could turn out to be puny compared to what's coming next year. Roy in Connecticut believes their premiums will be up 12% or more, although she hasn't seen the renewal yet. De La Fuente has seen what's coming, and it is not good.

DE LA FUENTE: For 2024 it's going to increase by 25%. That is shocking. Our people are going to freak.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: She says they've always had a generous health plan, and that's part of why their workers stay, which matters in a tight labor market. The company is now looking at options like maybe changing the plan or how it's funded. De La Fuente is worried about it and what it means for workers' budgets and their health.

Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.