A study by a national consumer health group finds health care costs in Iowa are rising much faster than our salaries. Kathleen Stoll is health policy director at the Washington D-C-based group Families U-S-A, which released the study.

It found that between 2000 and 2006, health care premiums for Iowans rose three-point-eight times faster than earnings. In other words, over those six years, health care premiums rose in Iowa nearly 78-percent while our wages only went up about 20-percent. Stoll says “It’s much harder for families to meet the premiums, in addition, another part of the story is that they may have higher deductibles and more co-pay at the same time.”

Stoll says “That tells us that Iowa families are going to be hit hard in the pocketbook as they try to make ends meet with their family budgets and keep their families covered by health care.” For family health coverage provided through the workplace in Iowa, the report says annual health insurance premiums in the 2000-2006 period rose from about 65-hundred dollars to 11-thousand-500, or an increase of nearly 78-percent. Over the same years, the median earnings of Iowa’s workers increased from about 22-thousand dollars to 26-thousand-600 or about 20-percent.

Stoll says there are some pluses in the report. She says “In Iowa, we’ve actually seen some pretty good wage growth. The wages are below national averages but you’re really getting hit hard by those health coverage premiums.” Stoll says Iowa’s families are paying more but receiving less in health care coverage. She says it’s hoped Congress next year makes it a priority to expand programs that serve children and families.

The Families U-S-A report is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, see “www.familiesusa.org”.