Workers are expected to pay more for health care coverage in 2011 than in 2010 as part of the steepening rise in premiums and employees’ share of the cost. Experts say that increase could keep workers from getting the care they need.

The average cost of group health insurance coverage is expected to rise 8.8% from 2010 to 2011, the highest increase since 2005, when premiums rose by about 9.2%, according to research from Hewitt.

Workers are bearing a bigger portion of that cost than a few years ago.
Hewitt projected that the average annual health care premium will rise from $4,083 in 2001 to $9,821 in 2011. In that period, employees’ annual insurance premium contributions and out-of-pocket costs will more than triple, from $1,229 to $4,386. The employees’ percentage of costs has risen from 35% in 2001 to an expected 45% in 2011.

Hewitt’s data, released Sept. 27, are based on polling of 350 large U.S. employers, which represent 14.4 million people.