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Ohio residents dropping employer health insurance plans as costs rise

Posted On Tue, September 22, 2009

More and more Ohioans are making the difficult decision to drop their employers' health insurance plans and search for other forms of coverage as premiums have continued to rise throughout the decade while wages have not.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, while 65 percent of Ohio's citizens received health insurance benefits through their employer in 1999, that percentage had dropped to 58 percent by 2007, before the onset of the recession.

Perhaps spurred by the economic downturn, the trend has continued as companies have been forced to offer fewer benefits while premiums rise or cut their plans entirely, sending employees to look elsewhere for health insurance benefits.

"We have a number of members say they're dropping [insurance] because they're getting to the end of the line," said Carrie Haughawout of the Ohio Small Business Council, according to the Dispatch.

"It's a heartbreaking decision for them; they are employees that they have to see day in and day out," she added.

More recent data released last week by Families USA paints a clearer picture of the disparity between the average income of Ohio's citizens and the insurance premiums they pay. While median earnings in the state rose by 11.7 percent between 2000 and 2009, the price of health insurance jumped by 84.1 percent during that same time period.

"Rising health care costs threaten the financial well-being of families in Ohio and across the nation," said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA. "If health care reform does not happen soon, more and more families will be priced out of the health coverage they used to take for granted."

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