Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums Rose

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Employer-sponsored healthinsurance premiums for family coverage increased more than 10 times faster thanU.S. employees' median incomes from 2001 to 2005, according to a reportreleased Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the WashingtonPost reports(Washington Post, 4/29). For the report, researchers from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesotaanalyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Forster, St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/28). RWJF released the report in conjunction with National Cover the Uninsured Week (Anstett, DetroitFree Press,4/29).

According to the report, monthly premiums for family coverage increased 34.6%from $1,921 in 2001 to $2,585 in 2005, while median family income rose 3.1%from $40,818 to $42,068 during the same period (Washington Post,4/29). The report also found that the percentage of health insurance premiumscovered by employees increased to 24.1% in 2005 from 23.2% in 2001 (Park, ArkansasDemocrat-Gazette, 4/29). In addition, the number of people with private coverage droppedby about 6% from 2001 to 2005, while the number of private-sector employersthat offered health insurance declined by 0.8%, the report found (St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/28). Premium increases contributed to 2.4 millionfewer U.S.residents with private health coverage in 2005 than in 2001, according to thereport.

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RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said, "There is a clearconnection between the rising cost of health care and the increasing number ofuninsured Americans. As costs continue to go up, fewer people can pay theirportion of the premium" (Krouse, Cox/RaleighNews & Observer, 4/29). She added, "This research shows that an ever-increasingnumber of people will join America'suninsured unless our nation's leaders act to reform our health care system."

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) said the report provides strong evidence to"jump start" Congress to act on a bill (S 2795) that would allowsmall businesses to form statewide or nationwide health insurance pools (ArkansasDemocrat-Gazette, 4/29).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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