Uninsured add $900 to health premiums-study

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

(Reuters)WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health insurance premiums will cost families and employers an extra $922 on average this year to cover the costs of caring for the uninsured, according to a report released on Wednesday.

With the added cost, the yearly premiums for a family with coverage through an employer will average $10,979 in 2005, said the report from consumer group Families USA.

By 2010, the additional costs for the uninsured will be $1,502, and total premiums will hit $17,273. In 11 states, the costs of the uninsured will exceed $2,000 per family.

For individuals, the extra charge this year is estimated to be $341 on average, rising to $532 in 2010. Total premium charges for individuals will be $4,065 in 2005, and $6,115 in 2010.

"The stakes are high both for businesses and for workers who do have health insurance because they bear the brunt of costs for the uninsured," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.

Nearly 48 million Americans will lack health insurance for 2005, the report said.

Uninsured patients pay about one-third of the costs of their care provided by doctors and hospitals, the report said.

The remaining costs -- more $43 billion in 2005 -- are considered "uncompensated care." The government picks up part of the tab and most of the rest is added to insurance premiums for people with health coverage, the report said.

"Ironically, this increases the cost of health insurance and results in fewer people who can afford insurance - a vicious circle," the report said.

The costs for people with insurance vary by state based on a number of variables, including the percentage of uninsured in a state and the amount local, state and federal governments contribute.

The report was based on data from the Census Bureau, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources.


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