Employer-paid health ins. up 119 percent

Aug. 24, 2009 at 1:57 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- If no healthcare reform is enacted, health insurance premiums could increase 94 percent to an average $23,842 per family by 2020, a U.S. non-profit group says.

A report by the Commonwealth Fund in New York says family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2008.

The report found that insurance premiums have been rising much faster than income across states and by 2008, total premiums -- including employee and employer shares -- equaled or exceeded 18 percent of the average household income for the working age population in 18 states, compared to just three states in 2003.

In three states -- Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia -- family premiums averaged 20 percent or more of middle household incomes for the state's under-65 population.

"Employers and employees share premium costs but we know that take home pay and retirement savings are being sacrificed to maintain health benefits," lead author Cathy Schoen, Commonwealth Fund senior vice president said in a statement. "Reforms that slow the growth of healthcare costs could go a long way toward health and financial stability for working families."

National reforms that slow healthcare cost increases by 1 percent to 1.5 percent per year would yield, by 2020, more than $2,500 in reduced premiums for family coverage. Slowing growth by 1.5 percent would yield more than $3,700 in premium savings compared to projected trends, the report said.

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