Premiums vs. Paychecks

Source: Families USA, September 2008

Throughout the first eight years of the new millennium, health care costs have skyrocketed, while working families’ wages have stood still. Other factors have also threatened families’ economic well-being, including rising gasoline prices and the downturn in the housing market, but the confluence of stagnant wages and rising health care costs has become a significant strain on family budgets. Numerous national studies have documented this damage.

As important as these studies are, they do not reflect the varying burdens experienced by families in different states. Just as labor markets, health systems, and economic circumstances vary from one state to another, the impact caused by rising health care costs and stagnant earnings differs considerably among the 50 states.

In 2006, Families USA undertook the first state-by-state analysis of growing health care premiums versus stagnant earnings in the new millennium. Since then, state economies have weakened, while health insurance premiums have continued their upward trend. Health care costs are now an even greater burden on American families. These reports, which are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, examine what these trends mean for working families.

State-specific reports are being released September through October, 2008. See the Newsroom for press releases.

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