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More go without insurance

The increasing cost of health insurance is putting coverage out of reach for many small to midsize companies and their workers, even though the rise in premiums this year was the lowest increase in eight years.

Since 2001, the cost of premiums has gone up 78 percent, far outpacing a 19 percent increase in wages and 17 percent jump in inflation, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care research group that annually tracks the cost of health insurance.

This year, the cost of premiums paid by workers and their employers was up 6.1 percent, while wages rose an average of 3.7 percent and inflation went up 2.6 percent, the survey said. Kaiser estimates that between 1 million and 2 million people join the ranks of the uninsured every year.

"There’s no scientific tipping point that you can point to at which health insurance becomes unaffordable," said Drew Altman, the foundation’s president and CEO. "But it does seem like we’ve crossed a threshold where health insurance is increasingly unaffordable for medium-sized employers, particularly smaller employers and average people this year."

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