Word is employer health care costs are leveling off. Spendingoverall certainly has slowed.

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That's great for them. Not so much for the actual employees.They’re footing more of the bill for their own health carecosts—whether it's in the form of deductibles or co-pays — thaneven just a couple of years ago. Workers in increasinglynot-so-employer-sponsored plans are paying nearly 40 percent of thecost for their own benefits.

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(Which incidentally begs the question: When does it stop beingan actual benefit? At what price point does the employee benefitbecome a roadblock? But maybe that's a question for some othertime.)

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On one hand, this is something most of us have been demandingfor years: More skin in the game makes for more responsible healthcare decision making. Or so the theory goes.

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But you’ll have to forgive my cynicism when I see this growingtrend emerge around the same time as the passionate pushback(crusade?) against a higher minimum wage—not that any of the jobsthat pay it come with any benefits to speak of. At least not theprivate sector kind. Especially in the wake of legislation thatoutlawed limited benefits medical plans.

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And my gag reflex wasn't helped any by my own trip to thesurgery center a couple weeks ago. Harley, my adorably demanding3-year-old, needed to have her jammed-up ear tubes removed andreplaced. The same procedure just two years ago —which included theremoval of her adenoids, as well — cost me a $125 co-pay. Thistime I shelled out $540.

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Hey, of all people, I understand (mostly) the economics of thebusiness we’re in — at least as much as the politicians will letme. But this is a rate of inflation that would make a Venezuelanblush.

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And you know what doesn't help any of us? One more waiver, delayor administrative never mind. Of course, I’m talking about theadministration's latest back step: giving those individual andsmall group plans another year to get in compliance. So does thatstill mean Obama broke his promise? What if he added another yearor two? (Don't laugh; he just might.)

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I haven't seen this much on-the-fly rulemaking since the lasttime Harley and I played hide-and-seek. Trust me, as the monthswear on, I wish we could all hide while the president counts to 24,as in months…

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