Health Care Premiums Rising At An Alarming Rate

October 04, 2004--Posted at 6:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO--At least one quarter of wages earned by nearly fourteen million working Americans goes to health care coverage.

Working families, even those who have health insurance, are finding that these costs are simply unaffordable,"said Ron Pollack, Families USA.

This rapid increase of health care cost is forcing millions of Americans to forgo health insurance.

Over the last two years, over 85 million people were uninsured at some point over a two year period.

Most of them were uninsured for over nine months.

"We're already seeing the number of uninsured in Arkansas and nationwide rising at an alarming rate,"said Harry Hutchison, Arkansas Methodist Medical Center.

Hutchinson says many times healthcare providers are seeing a double digit increase in necessary expenses.....

"At the provider level, our supply cost are rising, our drug cost, and our wages.  The shortage of nurses is driving the wages up, as the demand for nurses increases, the supply is shrinking every year,"said Hutchison.

The rising cost of prescription drugs is another reason health care costs continue to rise.

"New drugs are coming out and physicians are utilizing them to treat people in the most effective manner and sometimes the drugs can do it better than another form of treatment, so they are relying on that type of medication,"said Hutchison.

High health care premiums are contributing to personal bankruptcies, more emergency room medical care, or no health care at all.