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Premiums for Health insurance Soar

An annual survey of employers has revealed that premiums for employer-based health insurance has risen over twice as fast as overall inflation and wages, Fo the seventh straight year.//

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which is a nonprofit educational group and the Health Research and Educational Trust released a survey on Wednesday which showed that I the premium increase was 7.7 percent, in 2006, the least since 2000 marking the third straight year of reduced rate of growth.

However individual Americans have felt little or no relief because salaries haven't kept pace with the rate hikes. It has been found that since 2000, inflation has jumped 18 percent with the amount that workers pay toward family health-care coverage skyrocketing by 84 percent. Average wages have also increased 20 percent over the same period.

Therefore experts state that the present moderation in premium-rate increases does not give much reason to rejoice. Drew Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, "I think you immediately understand why a reduction in an already high rate of increase is pretty meaningless to average working people and why they're still feeling the pain."

This year, the average annual premium for single coverage is $4,242, of which workers pay $627, up from $610 in 2005. Family coverage costs an average of $11,480, with workers paying $2,973 annually, up from $2,713 last year. The survey found that since 2000, workers' annual contributions have increased on average by $293 for single coverage and by $1,354 for family coverage.

Rising health-care costs have forced many companies to scale back or drop coverage. Five million fewer workers are receiving job-based coverage in 2006 than in 2000, the survey found. And the percentage of firms that offer health benefits has fallen from 69 percent in 2000 to 61 percent this year.

That's prompted concerns that the job-based health insurance system, which covers n
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