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Health Care Costs Cut Deep Into Missourians Wallets

May 4, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Missouri families are finding themselves in a deepening predicament when it comes to health insurance; a new report from Families USA shows that even when people have coverage, the cost of health care is consuming more of their incomes. The findings show that 1.3 million Missourians will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax incomes on health care in 2009, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2001.

The problem is that health care co-payments and premiums are rising much faster than incomes at a time when benefits are shrinking. Kim Bailey, the senior house policy analyst with Families USA, says it's a clear signal that health care reform is needed on both the state and federal levels.

"One of the ways we can do that as well is by providing subsidies to middle-income families who can't afford health insurance coverage on their own."

The report also looked at the number of Missouri families who spend more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care, and found 357,000 families in the state fell into that category.

Bailey says higher health care costs bring more financial problems for families.

"There are a rising number of people who are facing medical debts and when those debts become too great to bear, folks are forced into bankruptcy and foreclosure; we're seeing that more and more."

The report, which examined the rising cost of health care from 2001 to 2009, was released late last week as Missouri lawmakers continue the debate on health care in the state budget and also on deciding what to do with federal stimulus money.

More information is at familiesusa.org

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO