That was a key finding of a new study about the state of health care in the US by Families U.S.A, a non-partisan health care advocacy group, which likewise found that the health-care cost hikes came as earnings growth was only up 12.5%.
In 26 states, worker premium costs were up by more than 40% in the 2000 to 2004 period. Hardest hit were workers in Utah where premiums shot up by an average 66.3% while those in Vermont were up 57.2% and those in Alaska headed north by 56.7%. On the other end of the scale was the state of Washington where premium costs shot up an average 20.4% during the four years examined in the study.
These data mean Americans are being forced to devote larger and larger shares of their budgets to funding their health-coverage needs, according to the study. From 2000 to 2004, the group found that the number of workers paying out more than a quarter of their earnings in health costs saw a 23% leap from 11.6 million to 14.3 million.
The issue of the uninsured was also significant. About 85.2 million Americans were without health coverage during the 2003-2004 period – up from 72.5 million in the 1999-2000 time frame. Not only that, but a third of Americans under 65 went without coverage during 2003-2004.
“When it comes to health care, are we better off than we were four years ago?” the study report asked. “The results of our analysis show that the answer to our question is a clear no.”
Families U.S.A. said it used data from the US Census Bureau, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services.