Health insurance premiums rise for Iowa employers

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowans who get health insurance at work are paying more for it. A new study by a firm in Clive shows premiums are up 7.1% from last year.

The firm has conducted the survey for 20 years. In that time, premiums for employer health insurance are up more than 240-percent. That is much faster than increases inflation or income. Dan Walterman, owner of Premier Health Insurance of Iowa says that's not surprising and lines up with rising healthcare costs.

The study looked at nearly 1,000 employers. On average, employees now pay $109 a month for employee-only coverage. That's about the same as last year.

Families saw the biggest increase, paying an average of $483 per month, 10% more than last year.

Walterman says medical inflation is more than 10%, so the annual increase is relatively low. 58% of employers passed rising costs on to employees last year, and that's not always through higher premiums.

"People are getting hit by not only increasing premiums but also increasing out-of-pocket expenses, so employers only have so much they can do. They can offer higher deductible plans or plans with less benefit, but in reality, it still hurts the individual employee or person," said Walterman.

He says the ultimate solution is addressing healthcare costs. The Med Quarter in Cedar Rapids hosted a walking challenge on Thursday.
Walterman says events like that can help people be healthier overall, which lowers health care costs.

"We really need to start teaching people how to eat better and how to live that healthy lifestyle. That's not just eating. That's exercising, and getting proper sleep," he added.

He also says a fee as part of the Affordable Care Act, and a 17% increase in the number of prescriptions issued last year are partially to blame for last year's increase in premiums.