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North Carolinians, Virginians Struggling to Keep Up With Skyrocketing Insurance Premiums

Providing some evidence that competition between private insurers doesn’t exactly keep coverage costs in check, Families USA, an advocate for health care consumers, issued a report today revealing that premiums in North Carolina jumped 5.3 times faster than state earnings since 2000. The details:

  • For family health coverage provided through the workplace in North Carolina, the average annual health insurance premium (employer and worker share of premiums combined) in the 2000-2009 period rose from $6,649 to $13,083—an increase of $6,434, or 96.8 percent.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, the median earnings of North Carolina’s workers rose from $23,080 to $27,330—an increase of $4,250, or 18.4 percent.

The trend in North Carolina is hardly an anomaly. In Virginia, insurance premiums have jumped 3.4 times faster than income over the same span, Families USA reveals in a similar report also released Tuesday. The findings:

  • For family health coverage provided through the workplace in Virginia, the average annual health insurance premium (employer and worker share of premiums combined) in the 2000-2009 period rose from $6,684 to $12,687—an increase of $6,003, or 89.8 percent.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, the median earnings of Virginia’s workers rose from $26,459 to $33,527—an increase of $7,068, or 26.7 percent.

The report is likely to fuel the calls for the creation of a non-profit, government-backed health insurance plan to compete with the private companies responsible for the trends Families USA is reporting — companies that have legal responsibilities to shareholders, but no responsibilities to ensure that patients get the care they need. If recent insurer profit reports are any indication, there’s plenty of room for such a non-profit to offer much lower premiums.

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