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Health Premiums Rise Far Faster Than Wages: Study

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A state-by-state survey by a public advocacy group finds family health insurance premiums are generally rising much more steeply than workers’ earnings.

Nationwide, health insurance premiums rose an average of 74% in the 6 years from 2000 to 2006, according to the study by Families USA, Washington. That is 6 times the 12% increase seen for median worker earnings in that same period.

The sharpest health insurance increases in the period were recorded in Idaho, where premiums were up 117%; Tennessee, up almost 99%; New Mexico, up 94.5%; and Maine and Washington state, both up roughly 89%, Families USA reports.

However, due to a rise in median earnings in Idaho of almost 20% over the 6 years, that state actually had a relatively modest increase in health care premiums as a multiple of earnings: roughly 6%, according to study data.

When compared with earnings growth, the most severe increases were in South Carolina, where premiums rose almost 10 times as fast as earnings, Families USA says.