Healthcare costs exceed $24K for US family of 4 in 2015

In 2015, the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four receiving health insurance from an employer-sponsored preferred provider plan will increase by 6.3 percent or $1,456, resulting in a total cost of $24,671, according to the 2015 Milliman Medical Index.

In such plans, both the employer and employee share the burden of cost increases, with the employer and employee responsible for $14,198 and $10,473 of the total cost, respectively. The most substantial contributor to the increased costs is attributed to prescription drugs, which accounted for $467 of this year's $1,456 total increase, which marks a 13.6 percent jump after a five-year period in which prescription drug costs rose by an average of 6.8 percent each year.

According to Scott Weltz, co-author of the MMI, the doubled rate of growth in prescription drug costs this year was driven by "the introduction of new specialty drugs, a continued increase in compound drugs and price increases for both brand name and generic drugs."

"For the last several years we've noted that the Milliman Medical Index was only indirectly affected by the Affordable Care Act, since the employer-sponsored insurance market was not a focus of the early reforms," said Chris Girod, co-author of the Milliman Medical Index. "But now we have the prospect that this family's health plan — which, in terms of actuarial value, is in a 'gold' plan — may trigger the 'Cadillac tax' that goes into effect on high-cost health plans in 2018. Whether or not our typical family of four finds themselves affected by the Cadillac tax will depend on whether future trends exceed recent levels, with people insured through smaller employer-sponsored plans potentially being more susceptible."

Healthcare costs for families of four have doubled in the last decade and tripled since Milliman began tracking this information in 2001, Sue Hart, co-author of the MMI said.

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