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Insured Americans Pay to Cover Uninsured: Report

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Americans with health insurance pay a substantial "hidden health tax" that covers health care for those without insurance, according to a report released Thursday by the advocacy group Families USA.

Each year, the average family with health insurance pays out an extra $1,000 a year and the average person with private coverage forks out an extra $370 in premiums to pay for health care for the uninsured, the Associated Press reported.

In 2008, uninsured people received $116 billion in health care from doctors, hospitals and other providers, Families USA said. About 37 percent of that amount was paid for by uninsured patients, and another 26 percent was paid for by government programs and charities. The remainder, about $43 billion, was covered by private insurance premiums paid by individuals and businesses.

"As more people join the ranks of the uninsured, the hidden health tax is growing," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, the AP reported. "That tax hits America's businesses and insured families hard in the pocketbook, and they therefore have a clear financial stake in expanding health care coverage."

The findings support the group's push to extend coverage to all 50 million uninsured Americans.

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