Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Huge Increase in Workers' Health Costs Amounts to Pay Cut for Many

Workers already facing fewer pay raises are now up against a new reality: Their bosses are forcing them to pay more for their premiums and deductibles than ever before, an annual health care survey released today revealed.

Workers premiums increased much faster than their wages and general inflation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey.

Since 2001, family premiums jumped by 113%, compared with 34% for workers’ wages and 27% for inflation, the daunting data indicated.

So in reality the increasing cost of worker-financed health care plans is actually a pay cut for many employees -- just the latest indication that the American middle class is under assault by an outdated economic system skewed in favor of the wealthiest Americans.

Annual premiums for worker-sponsored family health coverage increased to $15,073 this year, a 9% increase from last year, the survey showed. On average, workers pay $4,129 and employers pay $10,944 toward those annual premiums.

"This year’s 9% increase in premiums is especially painful for workers and employers struggling through a weak recovery," said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman.

Perhaps the only good news is that unemployed recent college graduates and other young people up to the age 26 are getting covered thankt to the health care reforms sponsored by President Obama.

"The law is helping millions of young adults to obtain health coverage. In the past, many of these young adults would have lost coverage when they left home or graduated college," said the study's lead author Gary Claxton, a Kaiser vice president and co-executive director of the Kaiser Initiative on Health Reform and Private Insurance.

The survey was conducted between January and May of 2011 and included 3,184 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees.

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