Study: Health Insurance a Major Expense for Families in California
The annual income for a family of four with two working adults must exceed $72,000 to cover health care costs and other basic expenses, according to a report by the California Budget Project, the Sacramento Bee reports. That income level is significantly higher than the minimum wage in California (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 10/17).
The study estimated the cost of housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, taxes and other items in regions across the state.
Researchers only based their calculations on families that do not have employer-based health care coverage, rent rather than own property and own a car (Semuels, Los Angeles Times, 10/17).
The study found that health insurance was the fourth-biggest expense, behind rent, child care and taxes (Zuckerman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17).
Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, said that high costs for health care, housing and taxes made living in California increasingly expensive (Avalos, Oakland Tribune, 10/17).
Ross noted that the findings highlight the gap between income eligibility for public health subsidies and "what it really takes to live in California."
Ross added that the study should help policymakers determine how much families must earn to afford health care.
Robert Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said the results show a need for a health care system that provides tax credits or vouchers to offset rising costs.
Ross said the findings are relevant to the current debate between Democratic lawmakers and President Bush over eligibility limits for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, arguing that the study shows that Bush is misguided in seeking lower eligibility limits for the program (Sacramento Bee, 10/17).