Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored family healthcoverage are up a modest 3 percent this year, but deductibles areanother story.

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According to analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation and theHealth Research & Educational Trust, deductibles are up nearly50 percent since 2009.

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Since 2009, the average deductible has increased 47 percent to$1,217 as employers aim to save on health care costs, researcherssaid. That's compared to $826 in 2009.

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This year, 41 percent of all covered workers face an annualdeductible of at least $1,000, including 18 percent who face adeductible of at least $2,000. And covered workers at small firms(three to 199 employees) are even more likely to face largedeductibles, with 61 percent facing at least $1,000 deductibles anda third (34 percent) facing $2,000 deductibles or higher.

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“The deductibles for workers have crept higher over time,topping $1,200 on average this year,” said study lead author GaryClaxton. “Today, four in 10 covered workers face at least a $1,000deductible, nearly double the share from just five years ago.”

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Meanwhile, the main headline from the report is that averageannual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverageincreased 3 percent this year, reaching $16,834, continuing a“recent trend of modest increases,” analysts said.

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Workers on average pay $4,823 annually toward the cost of familycoverage this year, the survey of more than 3,000 firmsconcluded.

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Kaiser analysts called the premium growth good news foremployees and employers, pointing out that premiums increased moreslowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digitincreases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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“The relatively slow growth in premiums this year is good newsfor employers and workers, though many workers now pay more whenthey get sick as deductibles continue to rise and skin-in-the-gameinsurance gradually becomes the norm,” Kaiser Family FoundationPresident and CEO Drew Altman said.

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Additionally, the survey also found that nearly all employerswith 100 or more workers (94 percent) already offer healthbenefits, shedding some light on trends on the employer marketbefore PPACA's employer mandate takes effect.

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