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Steeper Health Care Costs Forecast

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NEW YORK, Dec 15, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- An 18-year study of U.S. health care costs suggests a trend to much higher insurance costs, USA Today reported Monday.

The newspaper studied costs of health care insurance between 1984 and 2002, and discovered insurance premiums rose nearly 15 percent this year and are forecast to rise about 12 percent next year. With the average family policy offered by employers now costing about $9,000 a year, even a 10 percent annual rise will mean that same policy would cost nearly $12,000 in three years.

The study also found the amount consumers spent on insurance premiums after inflation rose 82 percent from 1984 to 2002 and, on average, consumers in 2002 spent almost as much on meals away from home, $2,276, as they did on health care, $2,350

The average percentage of premiums paid by workers for family coverage currently is 27 percent, according to a survey by the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation. That means workers could pay $3,200 or more toward coverage in three years just for premiums.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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