WASHINGTON — Premiums for family health care policies in Oklahoma jumped 40 percent over the last decade, according to a new study that shows more middle-class Oklahomans are uninsured.
The study, to be released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says employers that offer health insurance still pay the lion’s share of the premiums. Still, according to the study, employees’ share in Oklahoma for a family health care policy rose 74 percent from 2000 to 2008. Based on information from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, the report says most states have seen rising numbers of uninsured people, rising premiums and erosion in private coverage. "America’s uninsured crisis means that hard-working people with average incomes are being squeezed,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The fallout from rising health insurance costs hits everyone.” In Oklahoma, the number of uninsured in the middle class averaged 173,000 in 2008, up from 132,000 in 2000. The cost of a family insurance policy in the state went to $11,053 in 2008, a 40 percent increase. The increases in premiums for family and single coverage in Oklahoma were actually below the national average, according to the report. For family coverage, the average increase was about 56 percent; for single coverage, the average increase was 43 percent. The report is being released in the midst of the struggle by Democratic House leaders to get the necessary votes to pass the Senate health care bill, or at least a package of changes to the bill passed by the Senate in December. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said in December, in a letter to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, that the Senate bill’s individual mandate for purchasing insurance didn’t have strong enough penalties to ensure everyone would buy coverage.