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Plain and simple, today’s health care costs in the United States are too high. In 2008, they amounted to about $2.2 trillion or 16.2 percent of the gross national product. The average per employee cost for health care was $9,144, up 8 percent from 2007.

It should come as no surprise, however, that we are spending a lot on health care. Health care premiums have increased at rates well above inflation and workers’ wages over the past 15 years. The cost to treat heart disease and cancer has escalated. A doctor visit costs $121, an emergency room visit is $586, and the average brand-name prescription costs about $135. In fact, about 44 percent of a company’s benefit costs are due to health care.

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