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Health care issues: The cost of health insurance

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A look at key issues in the health care debate:

THE ISSUE: How much do Americans who have employer-sponsored health insurance pay in premiums? What do their employers pay? Would that change if the system is overhauled?

THE POLITICS: Health care costs have been increasing. For Americans and the businesses that insure most of them, that translates into higher insurance premiums. The average premium cost for employer-provided insurance has doubled since 2000. These days, coverage for an individual with employer-provided insurance costs on average $4,824 a year, with the employee paying $779 of that amount, according to a 2009 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. For a family plan, the premium is $13,375 with the employee paying $3,515. Under current law, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2016 average premiums for employer-based insurance will rise to about $7,500 for a single policy and about $19,000 for a family policy.

WHAT IT MEANS: Numerous factors will affect the cost of insurance under proposed health care bills, making their impact hard to predict. But President Barack Obama has vowed to lower the cost of health care. A recent study by America’s Health Insurance Plans said the most moderate of the Democrats’ health insurance plans would increase premiums. But the study only examined select aspects of the bill and ignored provisions aimed at making health care more affordable. The legislation would set up exchanges where companies would compete for customers. It also would provide subsidies for lower-income people.

_ Jim Kuhnhenn

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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