The California Healthcare Foundation recently published the California Health Benefits Survey.  The findings of this survey indicate that California healthcare premiums increased 8.3% in 2008.   Premiums continue to rise at more than twice the California inflation rate of 3 percent and the cost of healthcare premiums has more than doubled since 2002.
 
The rising cost of healthcare affects everyone, but it places a significant financial strain on employers.  Despite the increasing costs, seventy percent of all California businesses continue to offer healthcare benefits to their employees.  Employers in California that have opted not to offer coverage to employees cited “high premiums” as an important reason and being “too small” as the second most frequently cite reason.
 
The cost of healthcare benefits for California families is $13,427 each year; the cost to cover an individual is $4,906 annually.  Californians who are fortunate enough to be covered by an employer sponsored program will pay on average just $3,194 as their cost share of coverage for an entire family and individuals will pay about $582.  While these dollar amounts are still a financial challenge for most people in these tough economic times, it is an important investment in the long term health of you and your family.
 
In additional to traditional medical coverage most California firms surveyed are also offering employees disease management programs focused on diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and cholesterol.  Well over half of employers also have programs targeted to obesity and depression.  While most people tend to use their health coverage when they need treatment for an illness or injury, it is in the best interest of all parties for people to begin utilizing their health benefits for preventative care as well.  Preventing illness and injury reduces healthcare costs for individuals, employers and the entire community.