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September 12, 2007
Health Insurance Premiums Rise at Slowest Rate Since 1999

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose in 2007 at the slowest rate since 1999, but still higher than the increase in workers' wages or the overall inflation rate, according to a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust.

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Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased an average of 6.1 percent in 2007, down from the 7.7 percent increase reported last year. The 6.1 percent average increase this year was the slowest rate of premium growth since 1999, when premiums rose 5.3 percent. Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78 percent, while wages have gone up 19 percent and inflation has gone up 17 percent.

The average premium for family coverage in 2007 is $12,106, and workers on average now pay $3,281 out of their paychecks to cover their share of the cost of a family policy.

"We're seeing some moderation in health-cost increases, but premiums for family coverage now top $12,000 annually," Kaiser President and CEO Drew E. Altman, Ph.D. said. "Every year health insurance becomes less affordable for families and businesses. Over the past six years, the amount families pay out of pocket for their share of premiums has increased by about $1,500."

While premiums continue to rise faster than workers' wages, this year's gap of 2.4 percentage points is much smaller than the 10.9 percentage point gap recorded four years ago, when premiums rose 13.9 percent and wages grew just 3 percent.

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