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American workers - whose taxes pay for massive government health programs - are getting squeezed like no other group by private health insurance premiums that are rising much faster than their wages.
While just about all retirees are covered, and nearly 90 percent of children have health insurance, workers now are at significantly higher risk of being uninsured than in the 1990s, the last time lawmakers attempted a healthcare overhaul, according to a study to be released today.
The study for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly 1 in 5 workers is uninsured, a statistically significant increase from fewer than 1 in 7 during the mid-1990s.
The problem is cost. Total premiums for employer plans have risen six to eight times faster than wages, depending on whether individual or family coverage is chose, the study found.
"The thing I think is interesting is how many workers are newly uninsured," said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, which conducted the research.
"In the last couple of years we've seen a deterioration of private health insurance."
About 20.7 million workers were uninsured in the mid-1990s.
A decade later, it was 26.9 million, an increase of about 6 million, the study found.