Last week, Health Access was pleased to co-release a Families USA report, “Premiums Vs. Paychecks: A Growing Burden for California’s Workers.” It was covered in the Sacramento Bee, Contra Costa Times, and the Stockton Record. The basic findings:
* For family health coverage provided through the workplace in California, annual health insurance premiums in the 2000-2007 period rose from $6,227 to $12,194—an increase of $5,967, or 95.8 percent.
* Between 2000 and 2007, the median earnings of California’s workers increased from $25,740 to $30,702—an increase of $4,962, or 19.3 percent.
As if you didn’t know from your personal experience, rising insurance costs are vastly outpacing the take-home pay of workers. And what’s worse, workers are paying more, and getting less. These premiums are not just costing more, but they are buying less, in terms of benefits. Workers are being asked to pay more, both in terms of share-of-premium, and in terms of out-of-pocket costs, such as co-payments and deductibles. As much as employers are feeling this increase, they are even passing a bigger percentage of the costs along to the worker.
One of the reporters asked if there was advice, but the big solutions to rising health care costs are not individual actions, but collective policy reforms. And that’s the challenge for the next few years, at both the state and federal level.