While wages for many may finally be edging higher, health costs are growing a whole lot faster.
As 2019 open enrollment season begins, most workers who have employer health plans will see moderate increases in premiums and deductibles, but it may not feel like they're getting much of a bargain.
"Deductibles went up again this year, … and what we've seen with worker contributions is in line with the trend we've seen the past couple of years," said Matthew Rae, co-senior researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The average deductible for a worker in an employer health plan this year is $1,573, up 4.5 percent from $1,505 in 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation employer health benefits survey. Benefits analysts say they expect increases to be modest again for 2019.
But the longer-term trend tells a bigger story of why even small increases make workers feel like they're losing the battle on out-of-pocket health costs. While deductibles have more than doubled from 2008 to 2018, wages have only risen 26 percent over that period.
"Employers are very conscious of that … [and] seem to realize that they're at the end of their limits of cost-shifting in the realm of deductibles," so they're making other changes, said Kim Buckey, vice president of client services at health benefits firm DirectPath.