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Without Reform, U.S. Health Costs Expected to Rise
Date:8/20/2009

Average insurance premiums ranged from $11,000 to over $13,500 for families in 2008, report finds

THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- From 1999 to 2008, family premiums for Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance increased 119 percent and could rise another 94 percent, to an average of $23,842 by 2020, if health-care costs continue to increase at current rates, a report released Thursday shows.

The Commonwealth Fund paper also concluded that national reforms that limit health-care cost increases by 1 percent to 1.5 percent per year would lead to major savings for families and businesses. For example, slowing the annual rate of health spending growth by 1 percent would achieve more than $2,500 in lower family premiums, and reducing the rate of growth by 1.5 percent would lead to more than $3,700 in premium savings compared to current trends.

"With health spending projected to double if we stay on our current path, middle- and lower-income families are at high risk of losing their coverage or facing long-term stagnant incomes," study author Cathy Shoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a news release. "Employers and employees share premium costs, but we know that take-home pay and retirement savings are being sacrificed to maintain health benefits. Reforms that slow the growth of health-care costs could go a long way toward health and financial stability for working families."

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that supports independent research on health issues.

A state-by-state analysis revealed that employer-based premiums for family coverage increased an average of 33 percent between 2003 and 2008, ranging from a low of 25 percent in Michigan, Texas and Ohio to a high of 45 percent in Indiana and North Carolina.

In 2008, family premiums were highest in Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire, with the highest premium being more than $
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