Jersey Residents Squeezed

From the Asbury Park Press:

N.J. health care costs skyrocketing, group says

With rising health care costs outpacing incomes in New Jersey, a healthcare advocacy group warned Monday that increasing numbers of state residents are unable to afford adequate medical care.

“Working families are paying more and more and are receiving less and less,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “More and more people in New Jersey are joining the ranks of the uninsured and the underinsured.”

Health-insurance premiums for New Jersey families covered through an employer rose about 80 percent over the past six years, about 5.5 times as much as income grew, according to the group.

Premiums for individuals getting health insurance through their jobs also rose sharply, jumping 50 percent from 2000 to 2006, more than three times the rate at which earnings increased, according to the advocacy group, which supports universal health care.

“If this troubling trend continues, the health care affordability crisis in New Jersey will get worse and worse,” Pollack told reporters during a teleconference.

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10 Responses to Jersey Residents Squeezed

  1. James Bednar says:

    From the Star Ledger:

    Health coverage choking firms, new study finds

    A study released yesterday by Families USA, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., found the cost of health insurance premiums in New Jersey has jumped a whopping 79 percent in the past six years. Premiums rose 5.5 times faster than wages.

    The increases are straining companies small and large — stifling their growth by forcing them to limit hiring or scale back expansion plans, experts said. It is also forcing them to reduce wages and other benefits. “New Jersey families are hit hard in the pocketbook due to skyrocketing health insurance costs and stagnant wages,” said Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director.

    While businesses in New Jersey absorb most of the increases they have reduced benefits or frozen salaries, according to the report. Employees now are asked to contribute more money for less coverage. They have seen their annual premiums jump to $2,247 from $1,610 in six years, the report said.

    In 2000, according to the report, the total cost of annual family health coverage was $7,592. In 2006, the figure is $13,620. Employers paid nearly $6,000 of the costs in 2000. Their share has jumped to $11,373.

    “It’s having a huge impact, particularly among smaller companies,” said Christine Stearns, a health expert at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. She said New Jersey companies routinely call health insurance costs their top concern.

    Health insurance premiums for a company with 100 employees, for example, has jumped from $750,000 in 2000 to more than $1.3 million.

  2. waters says:

    What is the definition of “working families”? I have yet to meet a family who doesn’t have a family member working.

  3. lisoosh says:

    Our monthly premium for a family of 4 is $650, and that is with a pretty high deductable. It is ridiculous. I would prefer an option that covered catastrophic events – emergencies, broken limbs, cancer, and just pay for regular visits; it would work out cheaper in the long run but my husbands employer doesn’t offer it.

    I would imagine “working families” is meant to exclude retirees on medicare and welfare families on medicaid.

  4. Jim says:

    With teachers and cops getting automatic raises, and free or close to free healthcare, it is no wonder the rest of us are SQUEEZZED.

    Where will it all end???

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