Health-Insurance Costs Are Taking Biggest Jumps in Years

Anna Wilde Mathews:

Health-insurance costs are climbing at the steepest rate in years, with some projecting the biggest increase in more than a decade will wallop businesses and their workers in 2024.

Costs for employer coverage are expected to surge around 6.5% for 2024, according to major benefits consulting firms Mercer and Willis Towers Watson, which provided their survey results exclusively to The Wall Street Journal.

Such a boost could add significantly to the price tag for employer plans that already average more than $14,600 a year per employee, driving up health-insurance costs that are among the biggest expenses for many American companies and a drain on families’ finances.

Employers worry the hike might signal a new trajectory, with health costs resuming the rapid upward march of the early 2000s. Now, though, big increases would come on top of a total annual cost per covered family that is often equivalent to the purchase price of a small car. These increases come at a time when employers are reluctant to add to out-of-pocket charges that have left some of their workers in debt or unable to get care they needed.

“It’s much worse than we’ve seen over the last decade,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, chief executive of the Purchaser Business Group on Health. “It comes out of wages and core business.”