All the pundits seem to be mystified as to why lower gas prices are not showing up in consumers’ spending. There is a simple answer — the lower gasoline price savings is more than being absorbed by health care insurance premium increases. Take my example — our family drives about 18,000 miles per year with two vehicles averaging about 18 mpg so we use about 1,000 gallons of gas per year. Based on the national average cost of gas in 2015 vs. 2014 we saved $0.94 cents per gallon, or $940. However, our health insurance went up from $674 per month in 2014 to $802 month in 2015, an increase of 19 percent, or $1,537 per year. So our disposable income went down by $597 when your look at both gasoline and health insurance cost. The trend is continuing as our increase for 2016 was an additional $200 per month, which will further decrease our disposable income in 2016. So if you want to figure out why the consumer is not responding to lower gas prices, look no further than the “Unaffordable Care Act.”
Bill Fremgen, Boise
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