Health insurance premiums for workers in 35 states have risen at least three times faster than average earnings, according to a report released Sept. 28 by a liberal consumer group that advocates for affordable health care.
The report by non-partisan Families USA, titled "Health Care: Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago?", also found that in a dozen of those states, premium costs rose at least four times faster than workers' average earnings. Alaska topped the list, with premiums rising more than six times faster than average earnings.
"By any measure, the American public is worse off today than they were four years ago with respect to their health care," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said at a Washington, D.C., news conference. "The prices of premiums are rising much faster than earnings, health coverage is diminishing, wages are being depressed, and more and more people are uninsured."
The number of uninsured reached an all-time high of 45 million Americans in 2003, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.
The analysis, prepared by the Lewin Group of Falls Church, Va., compared health insurance costs and incomes for workers between 2000 and 2004 using data from the Census Bureau and other federal government sources.
The report relates the rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for workers to a rising number of people younger than 65 years of age without health insurance. More than one-third of the non-elderly population in 15 states and Washington, D.C., live without health insurance, according to the report. Texas has the highest percentage, with 46 percent of its under-65 population not covered by health insurance.