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Health care costs for insured Missourians will rise, report says

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – A new report says that Missouri families who have health coverage will pay more for it in 2008.

The report by Families USA states that over 1.2 million Missourians with insurance are in families that will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income on health expenses next year.

That's up from 844,000 in 2000.

It also claims that some Missouri families will spend more than one-fourth of their pre-tax income on health costs in 2008.

Amy Smoucha is an organizer with the St. Louis chapter of Jobs with Justice.

"What we've seen is folks having to spend more and more on health care, even if they have insurance, to the point that it's placing their families in deeper and deeper debt...this is a significant economic crisis for Missouri families," Smoucha said.

The report offered no solutions, but Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said it would require proposals from both the public and private sectors.

Meanwhile, Governor Blunt's spokesperson Jessica Robinson says his plans to expand access to health care may in the long run help reduce costs.

She cited the Ensure Missouri proposal as an example.

"The Ensure Missouri Plan has the opportunity to, once it's rolled out, actually cover more than a third of those in our state who currently lack insurance," Robinson said.

Robinson says another cost-cutting measure was a bill signed this year that allows Missourians to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums from their state income taxes.

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