It was reported in The New York Times that a study by the Commonwealth Fund shows that family health costs have doubled in seven years.  The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that researches health issues.

Total premiums paid by employees and employers combined, rose 50% between 2003 and 2010;  now averaging nearly $14,000 annually.  The report shows that employees’ share of the expense rose 63% in the same period.  Employee premiums averaged $3,700 compared to $2,300 in 2003.  But the bad news for families doesn’t stop there.  Their deductibles have nearly doubled in that span as well – to almost $2,000 in 2010.

The study pins its hopes on the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 to slow the rate of expense growth.  The law limits what an insurance company can spend on administrative costs and also subjects insurance companies to scrutiny if they file for an increase over 10%.  Several insurance companies in several states have already been asked to justify their rate increase requests.

As a result, “many working families have seen little or no growth in wages as they have, in effect, traded off wage increases just to hold onto their health benefits,” the report found.
“With rising costs and eroding coverage, much is at stake for the insured and uninsured alike as the nation looks forward,” the report concluded.

The study used employer data from the federal government as a basis for the study.

Commercial Property Insurance Rates reported that U.S. businesses are looking at higher premiums for property coverage after a year of record-setting natural disasters and near record low investment income.  This comes in a report from Insurance Broker Marsh & McLennan.

Half of those surveyed said their rates went up in the last half of 2011, with higher increases for those at higher risk of catastrophes.  Marsh believes the trend will continue.  Travelers and AIG have already increased rates after a rash of storms and earthquakes.  Damage from catastrophes in 2011 reached $105 billion worldwide, with about $25 billion of that from U.S. storms.

A survey by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers confirmed Marsh’ findings.  A survey by them found that U.S. commercial insurance rates rose 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter.  Marsh went on to predict premium increases for general liability, worker’s compensation and directors’ and officers’ coverage as well.