|By Mark Guydish, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
In the same time frame, total health insurance premium costs have grown statewide from 14.4 percent of average household income to 19.7 percent for single coverage, and from 13.8 percent to 20.2 percent for family coverage. And the share of that premium being paid for by employees rather than employers has risen, from 15.4 percent to 22.5 percent for single coverage and from 20.3 percent to 24.6 percent for family coverage.
Add the fact that, on average, insurance policy deductible amounts have more than doubled since 2003, and the bottom line is stark, lead report author
"Workers have been trading off better wages to hold onto health insurance," said Schoen, senior vice president for policy, research and evaluation at the
The average deductible has increased 134 percent in
Even when employers still cover the bulk of the cost, the rapid increases mean less money for wages,
The report argues that the Affordable Care Act, dubbed "Obamacare" by critics, is a "good foundation" for curbing escalating health costs. "Data on the national rate of premiums in 2012 indicates cost increases have begun to slow," Davis said.
The law limits the percentage of premiums that can be used for administration, sets standards -- or a floor -- for minimum coverage, and sets up insurance exchanges designed to let small employers and individuals get a better price on insurance by pooling resources and spreading risk, Davis said.
But governments, employers, insurers and health care providers must work together to build on that foundation. Slowing cost growth requires "focus on the total health system," the report contends.
Premiums have become so steep and increases so rapid that cutting projected premium increases by 1 percent would save an average of
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