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Caring for uninsured raises costs for others, group says

WASHINGTON -- Providing healthcare for the uninsured increases the annual cost of insurance premiums for the average worker by $341 and for the average family by $922, according to a study by a group promoting universal health insurance.

Families USA says its study shows the impact is not restricted to the tens of millions of uninsured Americans. Rather, it affects everyone, because the insured subsidize the cost of care that is given to the uninsured.

Most economists agree that some amount of subsidizing occurs, but the question has been how much.

The study, prepared by Ken Thorpe, a professor at Emory University, concluded that about $1 out of every $12 spent on health insurance premiums indirectly pays for healthcare provided for the uninsured.

The uninsured pay out of pocket about a third of the costs for their healthcare, the group said.

Hospitals rely on charitable donations, government programs, and the private sector to cover the rest.

Increased costs could prompt employers to cut back on the health insurance they now provide.

''It's a vicious circle that will not end until we as a nation take steps to solve the underlying problems," the advocacy group said.

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