Tuesday, September 28


Oh that wonderful Bush economy! Healthcare costs soar under Bush:

Health-care costs are consuming a significantly greater share of Americans' incomes, which have grown far more slowly than their out-of-pocket medical expenses since 2000, according to a study released Tuesday from Families USA, a nonprofit group for health-care consumers, and the Lewin Group, an independent research firm.

Nationally, the amount workers paid for premiums rose 35.9 percent on average from 2000 to 2004 -- nearly three times faster than average U.S. earnings, which increased only 12.4 percent in that time, the study said. In 26 states, workers' premium costs jumped more than 40 percent.

The total combined share of worker and employer premiums for individuals grew to $3,798 this year from $2,864 in 2000, while family premiums jumped to $9,320 from $7,028, the study found.

The increases, the largest in at least a decade, have pushed employers to shift more of the costs to workers and reduce the number of benefits offered, Families USA executive director Ron Pollack said.

"Even though people are getting less coverage today, the premium increases over the past four years are simply unsustainable because earnings are not rising anywhere close to the rate premiums are increasing," Pollack said. "In effect, people are paying a whole lot more and getting a whole lot less."

Employers struggling to absorb the bulk of the increases have to make up their costs in other ways, he said.

"Working families get hurt in a variety of ways: No. 1, their premiums rise substantially; No. 2, the number of benefits covered gets reduced; No 3, they're at greater risk of becoming uninsured; and, finally, it depresses their wages," Pollack said.


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