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June 09, 2005
How Much Do Uninsured Add to Your Health Premiums?

Premiums for employer-based family health insurance will cost, on average, an extra $922 in 2005 to cover the unpaid expenses of health care for the uninsured, according to a report released by Families USA, an advocacy group for healthcare consumers.

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The report projects that the extra costs to cover the uninsured will rise to $1,502 in 2010.

"The large and increasing number of uninsured Americans is no longer simply an altruistic concern on behalf of those without health coverage but a matter of self-interest for everyone," says Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. "The stakes are high both for businesses and for workers who do have health insurance because they bear the brunt of costs for the uninsured."

The researchers found that uninsured people pay for approximately one-third (35 percent) of the healthcare costs they incur. It is the remaining costs that are generally considered "uncompensated care."

Federal, state, and local government sources pick up a portion of those uncompensated-care costs. The remaining costs are shifted and added on to the insurance premiums for people who have health coverage, according to the report.

The report said the cost of health care provided to people without insurance that is not paid by the uninsured themselves will exceed $43 billion nationally in 2005. The Families USA report was based on government and other data compiled by Kenneth Thorpe, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

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