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Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket
Date:4/29/2008

Report finds premiums have jumped 30%, while incomes have only gone up 3%

TUESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Employer-based health insurance premiums have skyrocketed at a pace that far exceeds the rate of American wage increases since 2000, a new study reveals.

According to an analysis of government statistics being released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the average dollar amount employees must pay per year for family health coverage went up by 30 percent from 2001 to 2005. During that time, incomes increased by just 3 percent.

"Nationally, insurance premium costs are going up ten times faster than people's incomes," said RWJF spokesman Michael Berman. "And in some regions, the gap is even greater. So what we've tried to do with this report is highlight for the nation's leaders what families already know; that it's getting harder and harder to afford health insurance in America."

The report is a state-by-state analysis of insurance coverage costs relative to income from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), which is part of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

It was released as part of the organization's launch of its sixth annual "Cover the Uninsured Week," a nonprofit, non-partisan effort to increase awareness about insurance coverage issues. The campaign will be comprised of RWJF-sponsored health fairs, health insurance seminars, press events and community outreach programs across the country.

RWJF notes that currently 47 million Americans are uninsured, of whom almost 9 million are children.

In 2007, national health-care costs are estimated to have risen by 6.9 percent -- or two times the rate of inflation, according to the nonprofit National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC). While the RWJF notes that health-care spending now accounts for 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), the NCH
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