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Amid Bad Economy, Rising Health Care Premiums Slam Consumers, Small Businesses
WASHINGTON - September 15 - Even as Americans struggle with a recession and the highest unemployment rate since 1983, health insurance companies have jacked up their premiums again.
The average cost of family health coverage climbed again last year, to $13,375 for a family of four, according to new data released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research Educational Trust.
"This is unbelievable. With a contracting economy, shrinking job opportunities and deflation driving down prices in many sectors, the only thing that went up last year was your insurance company's premiums," said Larry McNeely, Health Care Advocate for U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Health insurance costs have gone up even more for employees at small firms, according to the new report, entitled Employer Health Benefits 2009 Annual Survey. Those working at firms with between three and 199 employees spend over a thousand dollars a year more on family coverage than those at larger firms.
"Small businesses and the families and communities that depend on them are getting killed by these cost increases. Congress can't wait any longer to pass health reform," McNeely noted.
U.S. PIRG's recent report, The Small Business Dilemma, details its own survey of the impact of high health costs on small businesses and its Making Health Care Work campaign has been working nationwide to mobilize consumers and small businesses in support of reform.
KRR/HRET's new report also compared this year's data with the previous nine years, finding a 131 percent increase in total cost of family coverage in the past 10 years.