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Health Care Premiums Rising Faster Than Earnings in NY

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-861040.mp3

Albany, NY – A New York-specific report finds that over the past decade, health care premiums rose by 92-pint-3 per cent, while workers' earnings rose by only 14-point-4 per cent. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has more...

A report issued by the consumer health organization Families USA finds Family health care premiums rose an estimated 6.4 times faster than earnings for New York's workers from 2000 through 2009... here's the breakdown:

For family health coverage provided through the workplace in New York, the average annual health insurance premium (employer and worker share of premiums combined) in the 2000-2009 period rose from $7,090 to $13,632 an increase of $6,542, or 92.3 percent.

Between 2000 and 2009, the median earnings of New York's workers rose from $28,153 to $32,221 an increase of $4,068, or 14.4 percent.

the report notes, the disproportionately high increases in insurance premiums have continued despite employees receiving "thinner coverage" coverage that offers fewer benefits and/or that comes with higher deductibles, copayments, and co-insurance. Other employers have cut costs by placing limits on which employees are eligible for coverage or by eliminating coverage for spouses and children of employees. As a result, New York families are paying more but receiving less in health coverage.

An even worse downside of rising costs is the loss of health coverage altogether. Between 2000 and 2008, the total percentage of U.S. firms offering health coverage declined by 6 percentage points from 69 percent of firms to 63 percent with small businesses being the most likely to drop coverage.

Among the many causes of skyrocketing health care premiums: wasteful health care spending, an almost-unregulated insurance market, a dramatic drop in competition in the insurance market, and cost shifts from the uninsured, termed a "hidden health tax." Families USA says the numbers represent a "call to action" for change --- for health reform.

Calls soliciting reaction from the Empire Center for New York State Policy were not returned in time for broadcast.

A spokesperson for the Business Council of New York State said without having an ability to analyze who Families USA is and what their research really amounts to "we can't comment on it."

The Families USA report is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

A copy of the report is available online by clicking HERE.