Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Health-Care Costs Squeeze Businesses.(Final)

Byline: Winthrop Quigley Journal Staff Writer

No End in Sight For Rising Insurance Costs

Health-care costs continue to climb at a much higher rate than overall inflation with no relief in sight.

While the national inflation rate was 3.4 percent in 2000, health-care spending increased more than double that pace -- 7.8 percent. In 2001, the inflation rate was 1.6 percent; health-care spending increased 10 percent.

So why, when inflation is so tame, are health-care costs seemingly out of control?

National experts blame the rising cost of hospital services, driven by more expensive technology and higher labor costs; increased use of prescription drugs; more government regulations; and more demand for health services than ever.

"Health care is complex," said Norman P. Becker, Lovelace Sandia Health System president. "Costs are driven by a number of factors, all extremely interrelated and interdependent. You cannot alter one area without impacting another."

New Mexico experts say health care spending in the Land of Enchantment pretty much tracks U. …

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