The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


(202) 546-9707 x303

Amid Bad Economy, Rising Health Care Premiums Slam Consumers, Small Businesses


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.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.