Family health care costs top $20K

By  – May 15, 2012 •

Health care costs for the typical family of four are projected to reach $20,728 this year, a 6.9 percent increase from last year, according to information released Tuesday.

The numbers come from the Milliman Medical Index, which measures the average health care costs for an American family of four receiving health care through an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization plan.

The 6.9 percent increase over 2011 is actually the lowest rate of increase in the 10 years of this study. Still, the total increase is the largest in that time period—the $1,335 increase surpasses last year’s record of $1,319.

“This helps illustrate the challenge of controlling health care costs,” Lorraine Mayne, a Milliman principal and consulting actuary, said in a news release. “When the total cost is already so high, even a slower rate of growth has a serious impact on family budgets.”

The index includes analysis of health care costs in 14 cities, showcasing the role that geography plays in health care costs. This year, the average cost of care for the typical family in all but three of these cities exceeds $20,000. Of the 14 cities analyzed, Miami is the most expensive, at $24,965, while Phoenix is the least expensive at $18,365.

The report also found this year employers will, on average, contribute $12,144 of the $20,728 total while employees will pay the remaining $8,584 through payroll deductions and out-of-pocket expenditures.

“While everyone knows the cost of health care is increasing, most people who receive health insurance through their employer are insulated from the true costs associated with the care they receive,” said Scott Weltz, consulting actuary with the Milwaukee office of Milliman.