US Health Insurance Costs Rise Faster Than Wages
Confirms above article
By Maggie Fox,
pasted from WebMD through the Rueters Health Information
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Sept 28 - Health insurance premiums
for workers are rising around three times faster than their wages, and health costs eat up a quarter of earnings for more
than 14 million Americans, according to a survey on Tuesday.
While benefits are being cut, health insurance premiums
are rising, the report from the nonprofit Families USA found.
"Working families were squeezed by runaway health care
costs over the past four years," said Families USA executive director Ron Pollack.
"As a result, workers are paying much more in premiums
but are receiving less health coverage, wages are being depressed; and millions of people have lost health coverage entirely."
The cost of health insurance premiums rose by nearly 36%
on average from 2000 to 2004 in 35 states, said the group, which bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog on health care issues.
Average earnings rose just 12% over the same time.
The Families USA report found that health insurance plans
provided by employers are covering fewer health services and workers are paying higher deductibles and copayments.
"Family health premiums paid by employers and workers rose
from $7,028 in 2000 to $9,320 in 2004. The average amount paid by workers for this coverage rose from $1,433 to $1,947 during
that period -- an increase of 35.9%," the group said in a statement.
"And, the number of Americans who had total health costs
that consumed more than one quarter of their earnings rose from 11.6 million in 2000 to 14.3 million in 2004 -- an increase
of almost 23%. The overwhelming majority of these people (10.7 million) had health insurance."
More than 60% of Americans get their health insurance through
an employer, according to Census Bureau statistics. But the number of people without insurance rose last year from 43 million
to 45 million and some experts say rising insurance costs are in part to blame.
Families USA said it found 85.2 million people went without
health insurance for some time during 2003 and 2004.
"In 2003-2004, one out of every three Americans under 65
years of age went without health insurance for some period of time. Over half of these people were uninsured for at least
nine months," the group said.
"The number of people who were uninsured at some point
in 2003-2004 exceeds the combined population of 32 states and the District of Columbia," Pollack added. "This is an epidemic
that requires immediate attention."
For the report Families USA used data compiled and analyzed
by The Lewin Group from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services