New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio

Health Care Costs To Soar Again Next Year, Salaries Won't

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio — Wednesday, October 21, 2009

By Martin Di Caro

A study by the human resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates said employee health care costs will continue to climb in 2010 much faster than workers' salaries.

The expectation that costs will keep rising will come as no surprise, but it doesn't make the pinch to middle-class workers any less painful. Rising costs lead to businesses either dropping health coverage or passing the expense along to their workers in the form of higher premiums.

"The study determined the health-care cost per employee will rise 6% to $9,120 on average in 2010. Workers should expect premiums for individual coverage and out-of-pocket expenses to climb 10%. The average salary is expected to rise only 1.8%.

In response to the study, health insurance reform advocate Eve Weissman at the watchdog New Jersey Citizen Action said the so-called public option would be the government's best solution.

"We've known for a long time that peoples' wages have remained virtually stagnant while costs, including the cost of health care, have continued to rise. Part of health care reform is expanding access to coverage, providing more people with health insurance. Health care reform does not work unless we bring down the cost. We hear all the time from businesses and individuals that premiums rise as much as twenty, thirty, sometimes even forty percent from year to year," she said.

She said the public option, which appears a loser in Congress, would help.

"It provides some real competition for the private health insurance companies which right now are the only game in town."

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