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Health premiums leap 41% from 2003

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 20, 2010

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Between 2003 and 2009, employer-based premiums for family health insurance coverage rose an average 41%, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released Dec. 2. Delaware saw the lowest increase at 21%, and Louisiana experienced the highest jump at 59%.

Although health insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable for families, the report concluded that provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could help reverse the unsustainable increases. If implemented properly, provisions of the health reform law -- including tax credits for small businesses, dependent coverage for young adults up to age 26 and elimination of co-payments for preventive care -- could ensure that patients continue to see their physicians, the study said.

Rep. Pete Stark (D, Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said the report "underscores how important it is that insurers pass the billions they're reaping in profits this year along to consumers." The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation based in New York City that supports health policy research.

In response to the report, America's Health Insurance Plans said hospital prices that insurers face have grown in recent years, and that lawmakers should consider that when discussing premium rates. For example, between 2000 and 2009, hospital costs per discharge in California jumped by 70% under Medicare, and 152% under commercial insurance, concluded a report AHIP released in December 2010.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/12/20/gvbf1220.htm.

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