A new study in the journal Health Affairs games out how steep health cost growths have decimated a full decade of increased earnings. It focuses on a middle-income family of four with employer-sponsored health insurance.
Overall, that middle-income family saw its income go up by $23,000, from $76,000 in 1999 to $99,000 in 2009 — not too bad. But rising health-care costs, in the form of increased insurance premiums and co-pays, ate up nearly all of that. Factor in that spending, and the average family only had $95 per month more in available income than it did a decade ago.
This picture could look a lot different. If health costs grew just 1 percent faster than inflation, for example, the same family would have $335 more in available earnings each month. Get health costs to keep pace with inflation and you’re looking at a $545 bump in monthly income.
Holy cow! Those are some big numbers. Of course, the President’s much maligned healthcare program, the memorably named Affordable Care Act — or “Obamacare” to almost everyone — has already started to bend the medical inflation curve downward, as noted weeks ago. Perhaps the President should tell someone.