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Health Care Costs Continue to Rise

We are currently paying over $1.5 trillion for health care in the United States and that is expected to rise to $3 trillion by the end of the decade. This is largely due to the costs of drugs and surgery and a reliance on a system that does not treat the cause of disease. How can we possibly be competitive globally as a nation when GM, the largest car manufacturer, pays nearly $2,000 on EVERY car for health care and retirement benefits?

The system is crumbling before our eyes. Earlier this month my garbage was not collected for TWO weeks after trash haulers went on strike to prevent health insurance cost increases. Believe me folks, this will hit you soon and hit you hard if it hasn't hit you already. Our country simply cannot afford this nightmare mess and gets nothing but lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies in return. Paying all this money would be much easier to swallow if we received glowing health in return, but, as you know, that isn't the case. The United States barely ranks in the top 20 healthiest nations.

This issue is receiving press again as this year's average premium increase of nearly 14 percent was the third in a row of double-digit increases--and more than six times the rate of inflation. Health insurance premiums went up because of higher prices for hospital care, drugs and other services, increased use of medical care and insurers' push for higher profits. Demand by patients for less restrictive managed care also played a part. As a result of the premium increases, the average amount workers pay toward their premium for family coverage rose nearly 50 percent from 2000 to 2003, to an average of $2,412 a year from $1,619.

USA Today October 21, 2003

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