Critical Condition

Defying all expectations, health costs continue to soar

Executives at General Motors are deeply concerned about a rising cost of doing business. Escalating wage demands perhaps, or increasing prices for steel? No, the problem has nothing to do with making cars. What really alarms GM is the company's health insurance plan. During the first nine months of last year, GM spent more than $2 billion on medical care coverage for its 2.3 million employees and retirees and their dependents. In the same period, the profits earned by the giant industrial firm were $2.7 billion. And while those earnings were only marginally higher than they had been a year earlier,...

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