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Family Health Insurance Premiums to Reach $22,000 by 2019

July 25, 2009

Whatever you think of the merits of President Obama's claim that the current American health care system is "unsustainable," the assertion is indisputable when it comes to the trajectory of insurance premiums. In a new analysis, the Center for American Progress forecasts the cost of the average family insurance policy to skyrocket from $13,000 today to over $22,000 by 2019.
Pointing to the estimate from the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast that per capita medical costs are expected to increase 71 percent over the next decade, CAP's David Cutler concluded:

This analysis shows that without health reform, average family premiums will grow to more than $22,000 by 2019, up from $13,100 today. In some states with higher-than-average premiums, family premiums will exceed $25,000 in 10 years. Of course, a family's total health care costs will be even higher once co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses are calculated into the total.

(State-by-state projections are available here.)
As Cutler notes, failing to change the status quo means "health insurance coverage will slip out of reach for even more individuals than the 52 million Americans who today are uninsured."
As the Commonwealth Fund recently revealed in a report titled, "Failure to Protect: Why the Individual Insurance Market Is Not a Viable Option for Most U.S. Families," staggering numbers of Americans are already priced out of the increasingly concentrated, monopolistic insurance markets nationwide:

Over the last three years, nearly three-quarters of people who tried to buy coverage in this market never actually purchased a plan, either because they could not find one that fit their needs or that they could afford, or because they were turned down due to a preexisting condition.

And those costs for employers and individual consumers alike are jaw-dropping. Americans' health care expenditures are already spiraling out of control, expanding at triple the rate of wages. That annual tab now tops $13,000. Of that, another recent analysis by the Center for American Progress found that "8 percent of families' 2009 health care premiums--approximately $1,100 a year--is due to our broken system that fails to cover the uninsured."
And with successful Republican obstruction of Democratic health care initiatives, those jaw-dropping costs would only continue their steep climb. A new report from the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast employers will face a 9% increase in health insurance costs in 2010. 42% of those business surveyed will pass at least some the new burden on to their workers. As PWC's Michael Thompson concluded:

"If the underlying costs go up by 9%, employees' costs actually go up by double digits," he said, noting that will have a "major, major impact" when many employers also are freezing or cutting pay.

For their part, Republicans' remain steadfastly committed to "kill" reform they deride as a supposed "government takeover of health care" which is "too much, too fast, too soon." That obstructionism that the horror story that is today's U.S. health care system - 50 million uninsured, another 25 million underinsured, medical bills involved in 62% of bankruptcies, 1 in 5 Americans postponing care - will be tomorrow's health care nightmare.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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