Forty-five million Americans did not have health insurance last year. Part of the reason is that health insurance costs continue to rise. Health insurance premiums jumped 11.2 percent this year, growing 5 times faster than inflation and five times faster than U.S. worker’s salary.
Let’s take a look at some of the other numbers from this year’s survey by the Kaiser family foundation.
The average cost of health insurance for a family of four is now $10,000. That’s up 60 percent over the past three years since 2001. Of that total, employers paid $7,289 and employees paid $2,661. If it feels like more of your paycheck is going toward health insurance, no need to check out the mental health care part of your plan. Your premiums have gone through the roof. In fact, the employee contribution has more than doubled in three years.
And if you’re self-employed, or are buying your own health insurance policy because your employer no longer offers coverage, you’re footing the entire bill, and that can be extremely expensive. What can you do to keep the costs somewhat affordable?
Well, you can start by shopping around. Websites like ehealthinsurance.com offer an apples-to-apples comparison of all health plans in Illinois. Next, consider raising your deductible. If you want to lower your car insurance, you can raise your deductible. The same is true for homeowner’s insurance and healthcare insurance.
A third idea is to change your coverage and go for catastrophic care insurance only.
You might also try paying for your health care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Push your employer to open up an h-s-a, a health savings account, or a cafeteria plan. Both will allow you to pay your health care costs with pre-tax dollars. I did a story earlier this year on h-s-a accounts, which you can find at wgntv.com. If you’re self-employed, you can write off 100 percent of the cost of health care insurance on your federal income tax return.
Finally, if there’s no other option other than going without health care insurance, write the folks who represent you in Washington D.C. to push for more reasonably-priced health care solutions. I spoke with someone yesterday who runs a small law office. She said the premiums she pays went up $600 per month. My own health insurance bill just went up about $150 per month, which is a 16 percent increase. And I’ve still got 25 years to go until I can qualify for Medicare. So you’ve got to do what you can to keep costs affordable.
For information on each state’s health facts:
Kaiser family foundation – link to the health care study www.kff.org
Published: Sep 14, 2004