AP News

News Summary: Family health plan premiums up 4 pct

BIG EXPENSE: Annual premiums for job-based family health plans averaged $15,745 this year, with employees paying more than $4,300 of that, a glaring reminder that the nation's problem of unaffordable medical care remains a concern.

SMALLER INCREASE: The 4 percent annual gain beats last year's 9 percent hike, but still outpaces workers' raises and inflation. According to some experts, that reflects underlying problems with the health care system that have frustrated policymakers and corporate benefit managers.

STABLE COVERAGE: The availability of employer-based coverage, the mainstay for working people and their families, remained stable this year, with 61 percent of all companies offering health benefits.

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