Workers' Share Of Health Premiums Far Outpaces Pay Raises, Report Says
November 1, 2006
By Staff Reports
Workers' share of premiums for family health insurance in Connecticut rose 5.6 times faster than their earnings since 2000, while the policies' benefits eroded, the advocacy group Families USA said in a new report.
Employees are paying an estimated average $2,658 in premiums this year for family coverage, nearly 74 percent more than the $1,531 in 2000, the study said.
Median earnings in Connecticut grew 13.2 percent during the same period, from $32,106 to $36,348, the study said. It noted, however, that U.S. earnings actually declined, when adjusted for inflation.
Washington-based Families USA has been reporting similar data state by state in its push for "affordable health care for all Americans."
It won't come as a surprise to many consumers that their paychecks have not grown as much as their insurance costs, but the report "Premiums Versus Paychecks: A Growing Burden for Connecticut's Workers" sizes up the situation with stark numbers.
Health insurance premiums have grown steeply since the late 1990s, with double-digit jumps in some years, although increases have moderated since 2002, surveys have shown.
At the same time, employers, feeling burdened themselves by soaring health care costs, have shifted more out-of-pocket costs to workers. That has been done through new or higher deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance - requiring people to pay a percentage of a medical service or drug.
"As a result, health care costs are absorbing an ever larger portion of family budgets, and it is clear why many Connecticut families feel worse off economically than they did six years ago," Families USA said.
As benefits get thinner, "a growing share of working families faces catastrophic medical costs," the report said. And if premiums continue to speed ahead of pay, more residents will go uninsured or underinsured, the report concludes.
Connecticut has about 407,000 uninsured, including 74,000 children, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.
Families USA based premium estimates on a survey by a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and based workers' earnings on Census Bureau data.
Other Families USA findings for Connecticut are:
The average annual premiums per worker for family coverage - the worker and employer shares combined - rose 77 percent, from $7,292 in 2000 to $12,904 in 2006.
Employers' share of family premiums increased about 78 percent, from $5,761 to $10,246.
Employees are paying an average of $872 in annual premiums for individual (employee only) coverage, nearly 65 percent more than the $529 in 2000.
Employers' share of individual coverage climbed 38 percent in the period, from $2,528 to $3,488. The combined employer and employee premiums for a single worker's insurance grew 42.6 percent, from $3,057 in 2000 to $4,360 in 2006.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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