Report: Growth in Health Premiums Outpaces Earnings in Wyoming

Health care premiums grew about six times faster than earnings for Wyoming workers from 2000 to 2006, according to a report issued Monday by a consumer group.

Families USA found that annual premiums for family health care coverage offered through the workplace in Wyoming increased on average from $5,605 in 2000 to $12,274 in 2006, an increase of $6,669 or 119 percent.

During the same period, median earnings of Wyoming workers increased from $20,765 in 2000 to $24,646 in 2006, an increase of 18.7 percent.

According to the organization’s report, fast-rising health care costs are causing increasing numbers of people to go into debt.

“If this troubling trend continues, the health care affordability crisis will get much worse and many more Wyomingites will become uninsured and underinsured,” Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director, said in a statement. “If earnings continue to lag behind fast-rising health care costs, Wyomingites will face diminishing economic and health security.”

The analysis found the high increases in insurance premiums came as many health plans offer fewer benefits along with higher deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance. The data was collected from the Census Bureau, the Labor Department and the Health and Human Services Department.

The Families USA report said the result is a growing number of Wyoming families joining the ranks of uninsured and underinsured. It said the number of non-elderly uninsured people in Wyoming is estimated at more than 75,000, about 17 percent of the state’s non-elderly population.