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Survey: Nearly half those with employer-based health coverage report paying more than a year ago

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Nearly half of Americans with employer-based health coverage, or 47 percent, said more money is being taken out of their paychecks to pay for that coverage compared with a year ago, according to a new Bankrate.com survey released Wednesday.

And the benefits pinch is tighter higher on the income scale: 64 percent of those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year reported more money coming out of their paychecks for health care, compared to 38 percent of those earning less than $30,000.

The survey found 48 percent of respondents want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, up from 46 percent in the September survey.

"That might stem from all the negative publicity over the last couple of months because of the botched rollout of the health insurance exchanges and all the cancellations we saw in the private insurance market," said Bankrate insurance analyst Doug Whiteman.

The ACA requires most U.S. citizens and permanent residents to have health coverage this year or pay a penalty. For many Americans, the ACA is requiring health plans to cover a wider menu of medical services, which in some cases has led to increases in health insurance premiums. The ACA also provides federal subsidies to help moderate-income Americans afford coverage and has vastly expanded the Medicaid program that serves low-income individuals and their families.

Bankrate's Health Insurance Pulse survey of more than 1,000 adults living in the U.S., conducted between Dec. 19 and 22, is the fifth health insurance survey Bankrate has conducted since last August and the first one focused on people with workplace-based insurance, according to Whiteman.

Getting health coverage through work "is the most common way for people to have health insurance in this country, and we found that many of these people feel they are being squeezed somewhat."

Along with the 47 percent who said more money is coming out of their paychecks for health coverage, 44 percent said they are noticing higher out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments, he said.

Whiteman noted that some employees could be seeing the early impact of the new ACA tax on high-priced "Cadillac" health plans. He said plans with premiums above $10,200 per year for an individual and $27,500 for a family are subject to a 40 percent tax in 2018 under the ACA and companies are cutting back on benefits now in advance of that.

Employers can reduce a Cadillac plan's premiums by increasing the deductible and co-pays, thus increasing the employee's out-of-pocket costs.

The survey also found that 7 percent of respondents have lost coverage for their spouse or children.

"That is interesting because, just a few months ago, we had screaming headlines about this supposed trend when in fact it was only a couple of companies who said they would be dropping coverage for spouses, and not in all cases," Whiteman said.

Employers who announced they would not cover spouses also said they would continue to cover spouses who had no other options because they could not get coverage from their own employer, Whiteman said.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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