Health Insurance Premiums Keep Rising

October 3, 2006

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance continued to rise drastically in 2006, according to the recent survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This year, insurance premiums rose 7.7%, more than double the rate of wage increases; since 2000, premiums have gone up 87%. Since employers keep shifting much of these increased costs onto their employees, workers are paying, on average, $2,973 in premiums for family coverage and $627 for single coverage. In addition, workers must pay hundreds of dollars in deductibles and thousands in copayments. Vision and dental care, which are, at best, only minimally covered in employer-sponsored insurance plans, add even more costs for the workers.

Employer-sponsored health insurance covers 155 million people and is the principal method of health coverage in the country. The drastic and continuing increases in costs for the workers have produced a real health care crisis. Tens of millions of workers and their families cannot afford health insurance at all, while tens of millions more are forced to cut back on other necessities in order to pay their health care costs.

But health care is an absolute necessity. Facing the present crisis, workers have to struggle on two fronts.

Firstly they must wage repeated struggles against employers' shifting of costs onto the workers and to force the employers to pay the full cost of health insurance. Under the present situation, full health care coverage must be considered part of the minimum wage; any health costs paid by the workers are a deduction from their wages.

At the same time, workers must mount a political struggle to force the government to create a universal system which guarantees free and comprehensive health care as a right to everyone.