Economic Snapshot | Health

State of Working America preview: A staggering rise in health insurance costs

Family health insurance premiums more than doubled between 1999 and 2009, far outpacing the growth in workers’ earnings and overall inflation. The Figure, from EPI’s forthcoming State of Working America Web site, plots the rise in health insurance premiums against both inflation and hourly earnings for nonsupervisory and production workers, who comprise 80% of the private-sector workforce.

While family health insurance premium costs grew 131% over the past 10 years, inflation over that same period rose just 28.8% and hourly earnings rose by 38.1%. Since health insurance premiums are often shared between workers and their employers, this disproportionate rise in the cost of health insurance helps illustrate why it is increasingly difficult for both employers and their workers to afford.

As part of the launch early next year of the State of Working America (SWA) Web site, EPI has been previewing data from some of the key themes covered in SWA. These previews are attached below.

Mobility: Whites more upwardly mobile than blacks

Poverty: Poor children

Jobs: 17% of workers cannot find the amount of work they want

Wages: The declining value of minimum wage

International: A world of difference in child care funding

Income: Income inequality in dollars and cents

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