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Time for the Pennsylvania Senate to get moving on health insurance reform!
Health insurance premiums for families with employment-based coverage jumped by 30 percent between 2001 and 2005, according to a national study published in April by the University of Minnesota, from $8,281 annually for family coverage to $10,728. Meanwhile, wages for employees edged up only 3 percent.
"Providing insurance coverage takes a bigger bite from the family budget every year," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which helped fund the research.
According to published reports, the portion of insurance premiums paid by employees held steady at 24 percent with employers picking up the remainder. Around 30,000 employers dropped coverage during the period studied; as a result, 4 million fewer people had health insurance through their places of work.
Health insurance reform, passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in House Bill 2005, would attack this problem by ending the wasteful and expensive practice of medical underwriting and by limiting insurance company costs and profits to 15 percent of premiums paid. See the entry below for more details.
Senate Bill 1137, also passed by the Pennsylvania House, would lower health system costs by providing affordable health insurance to 250,000 uninsured individuals. Currently, the cost of medical care for the uninsured is shifted to people who have insurance and adds 6.5 percent to their annual premiums. This "hidden tax" amounted to $700 per family in 2005.
To date, Senate leaders have declined to bring either bill up for debate.