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Health Insurance Premiums Rising Faster Than Paychecks


Since 2000, Americans have seen their health insurance premiums increase at a much faster rate than their paychecks. The report was released by the nonprofit, non-partisan organization Families USA on August 18.

Families USA is a consumer health organization that is dedicated to achieving high-quality, affordable health insurance and health care for all Americans. It has worked at the community, state, and national levels for consumers since 1982.

The report covers the period 2000 to 2009 and notes that health insurance premiums for families have risen at different rates in relation to wages, depending on the state, but overall the situation is not good. Along with higher premiums, working families also have higher out-of-pocket health care costs, including more expensive copayments and deductibles, and costs not covered by their insurance plans.

In Utah, for example, premiums for families have nearly doubled, even though the median wage has increased by 22.8 percent. For Utah employers, the increase is even harder to take: a 98.77 percent increase, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Census.

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In Pennsylvania, family health insurance premiums have risen more than five times faster than income: a 95 percent increase in premiums versus a less than 18 percent increase in median earnings. Over the past decade, health insurance premiums for a family in the state nearly doubled to $13,000.

Heading south to North Carolina, the scene is similar to that in Pennsylvania. Family health insurance premiums rose more than five times faster than earnings: a 96.8 percent increase in premiums compared with an 18.4 percent rise in median earnings. Out in the middle of the country, Missourians have experienced an 82.5 percent rise in family health insurance premiums for employer-provided coverage, while their earnings have risen 22.8 percent. For employers, their portion of annual premiums for a family rose 71.2 percent.

The Families USA report also notes that the number of companies offering health insurance coverage has declined from 69 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2008. The data was taken from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health research and Educational Trust Employer Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. A copy of the Families USA report can be seen online.

The Families USA report notes that the strain of ever rising health insurance costs and the depressed job market and wages have created a situation where “many families have reached a breaking point. Quite simply, America’s families are being priced out of health coverage.” As Americans wade through the rubble, they wait to see if their lawmakers can agree on a health insurance reform package that brings us all together.

The Business Journal, August 18, 2009
Families USA, “Costly Coverage”
Salt Lake Tribune, August 19, 2009
St. Louis Business Journal, August 17, 2009