By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News:

The average family’s health insurance now costs about $16,000, and workers pay more than a quarter of that, according to a new survey.

But health insurance premiums for job-based family coverage rose a relatively modest 4 percent, reflecting slowed health spending, according to a survey of about 2,000 employers released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Nonetheless, workers are likely to feel an increased pinch from health care costs: More than a third have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 this year before their insurance kicks in, while wages continue to grow far more slowly than health insurance costs.

Premiums for the average family plan topped $16,000 for the first time, with workers paying on average $4,565 toward that cost, not counting copays and deductibles, the survey found.

The average cost of a single employee’s insurance premiums rose 5 percent, to $5,884, with workers paying an average of $999, the survey found. Workers’ wages increased 1.8 percent on average, while general inflation rose 1.1 percent. The survey was done between January and May of this year.

“The premium increase this year is very moderate, but the pain factor for health insurance cost has not disappeared,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the foundation. “Over time, what people pay for health care has dramatically eclipsed both their wages and inflation.”

The increases documented in the report, moderate by historic standards, come amid ongoing debate over the federal health care law’s ability to rein in health care costs.

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