News and Commentary

Headlines on Deadline May 2005

Far from final words on obesity were splashed across headlines last month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the condition is responsible for 112,000 deaths annually in the United States. That's considerably fewer than contained in a March 2004 CDC report, now discredited, that put the number of yearly deaths from obesity at about 400,000. The newer report even suggests that overweight people (BMI of 25–29.9) might live longer than those classified as having normal weight.... Most uninsured people do not pay taxes, because they have low incomes, and would therefore not be likely to enroll in tax-free health savings accounts, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. However, Larry Akey, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, tells the Boston Globe that, "Our preliminary [survey] shows that roughly a third of the individuals who are buying this product were previously uninsured." This will continue to be watched closely.... To no one's surprise, General Motors blamed its largest quarterly loss in more than a decade on the increased costs of providing health care coverage for 1.1 million workers, retirees, and dependents. The company lost some $1.1 billion in the first quarter. GM officials have been complaining about health care costs for quite a while.... Every silver lining has its cloud, UnitedHealth Group learned last month. First-quarter earnings were up 41 percent but lower-than-expected growth in health plan enrollment has investors worried that we may be in for a new round of price competition.


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