Health Insurance Premium Hikes Outstrip Income

Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 02:02 PM

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Health insurance premiums have risen faster than income in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and health premiums are consuming a larger share of family income, according to the independent Commonwealth Fund.

A Commonwealth Fund study found that the District of Columbia has the highest premiums, with the employer and employee contribution averaging $5,644 for a single policy and $15,206 for a family version in 2010, according to The Washington Post.

The cost represents a rise of 51 percent for a single policy and 41 percent for a family since 2003, the Post reported. Similar increases were found in states with the lowest average rates.

“Although employees typically don’t see the total cost of their insurance, the sharp increase, in effect, means lower wages and salaries as employers make the trade-off between increasing wages and offering insurance,” said Cathy Schoen, a co-author of the study.

The study also found that states with lower than average incomes, such as New Mexico and West Virginia, had some of the highest premiums in the nation. Some plans have lower premiums but the true cost is higher due to raises in deductibles that can reach into the thousands of dollars.

The study also found that health care premiums are eating up a larger share of family income. The report found that 62 percent now live in states where health insurance premiums are equal to 20 percent or more of median earnings, the Post reported.


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