A new study recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Washington Post shows that employer- sponsored health insurance premiums for family coverage increased 10 times faster than US employees’ median incomes from 2001to 2005. The report also found that the percentage of health insurance premiums covered by employees increased to 24.1% in 2005 from 23.2% in 2001.
What does this mean to us? There are approximately 200,000 people in the Kansas City region that are uninsured. Clearly there is a connection between the rising cost of health care and the increasing number of uninsured. It is obvious that when people cannot afford their health care premiums, the number of uninsured increases. What is also obvious is that as the uninsured population increases, costs continue to rise for those of us who have health insurance and the vicious cycle begins anew, bringing about even higher premiums. A Families USA study revealed that health premiums for families who obtained coverage through an employer cost an extra $922 in 2005 solely due to the expenses of covering the uninsured.
The United States currently spends more money on health care than any country in the world. These trends in higher costs will not be reversed without a significant change in the health care delivery system. I am hopeful that this change will come about soon, but so far all I see is talk and not much action.