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New Study Says Premiums Grew Four Times More Than Incomes In Minnesota

September 16, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The average cost of health insurance has far outpaced most workers' incomes in Minnesota over a ten-year period. A study by Families USA, a national health care reform advocacy group, reports the average annual health insurance premium has risen more than $7500, and now costs more than twice what it did in 2000.

During the same time period, median income in the state increased less than 23-percent. Steve Hunter, secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, says the study puts numbers to what he already hears from workers.

"People are getting a confused message. But I think, when people sit down at the kitchen table and they look at the bills and they look at what they're paying for health insurance - what they're paying for co-pays and for deductibles - they understand there's a serious problem out there."

The AFL-CIO supports health insurance reform proposals that include a public option. Its supporters say it will lower costs and make private insurance providers more competitive, but critics claim a public option won't lower health care costs and would increase the national deficit.

The study also found that employers' annual portion of health insurance costs have risen more than 121-percent, or a total of $6000 since 2000, says Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack.

"In most states, the workers' share rose faster than the employers share. Minnesota is one of the exceptions to that rule."

Pollack adds the study is based on data compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The results by state can be viewed online, at www.familiesusa.org.

Art Hughes, Public News Service - MN