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Study Says Health Costs for Family of Four Now Top $20,000 for the First Time

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

May 15, 2012 -- Health care costs for a family of four covered by an employer-sponsored preferred provider organization will average $20,728 in 2012, according to an estimate released on last week by the Milliman consulting firm.

The total represents sums paid both the by the employer and the employee.

"While the 6.9 percent increase over 2011 is the lowest rate of increase in the 10 years of this study, the $1,335 increase surpasses last year's record of $1,319," Milliman said in a news release. "This helps illustrate the challenge of controlling health care costs," said Lorraine Mayne, a Milliman actuary. "When the total cost is already so high, even a slower rate of growth has a serious impact on family budgets."

Employers on average will pay $12,144 of the $20,728 total while employees—through payroll deductions and out-of-pocket expenditures—will pay the remaining $8,584, the consulting firm said. The survey also found considerable variation in tracking costs in 14 cities. Miami was the most expensive at $24,965, while Phoenix was the least expensive at $18,365.

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