To Your Health

February 16, 2004
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This just in from our Think You’re Already Paying Enough for Health Care? Department: Health care spending in America will continue to (what else?) rise (surprise!!!!) for the next decade. A lot.

After hitting a projected $1.8 trillion in 2004, the nation’s health-care bill will nearly double to an estimated $3.4 trillion by 2013, going from 15.5 percent of the gross domestic product to 18.4 percent, according to new government projections.

On the upside…

Well, at least the growth in health-care spending is slowing somewhat. After peaking at 9.3 percent in 2002, growth in health care will tail off to a 7.2 percent rate in 2004.

Spending growth at hospitals, after peaking at 9.5 percent in 2002, will dip to a 6.5 percent rate in 2004. Spending growth in prescription medications will slow from 19.7 percent five years ago to 12.9 percent this year, a reflection of the changes in drug benefits that employers have instituted to stem the rising health plan premiums. (What a relief, eh?)

And the news you’ve all been waiting for (drum roll, please): The growth in private health insurance premiums will slow from 11.4 percent in 2002 to 7.1 percent for 2004.

All kidding aside, however, the folks who crunch these numbers say you can expect to see efforts accelerate to contain health-care costs.

Although it is unclear what direction new efforts to restrain health costs might take, historical behavior suggests that a continued escalation in health spending of the magnitude of recent experience will likely spur efforts to contain this growth,” said StephenHeffler of the actuary’s office for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. “The form that these efforts take can be expected to shape the nature of health care financing and delivery over the coming decade.”

Want to know more? You can listen to a Web cast briefing about last week’s report on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Web site at www.kff.org.

  • Things go better with Coke. Like advertising.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Michigan and Travel Michigan have teamed up to promote tourism in the state through the launch of 10 million custom 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola Classic that display special graphics encouraging consumers to visit www.michigan.org for information about travel opportunities throughout the state.

The new partnership popped the top on the campaign last week across Michigan and northwest Ohio.

“There are probably at least a million good reasons to visit and spend your vacation time in Michigan,” said Gov. JenniferGranholm. “Now we have 10 million ways to spread the word to Michiganians and Ohioans alike. This is a tremendous opportunity to help lead citizens to the information about traveling possibilities in Michigan.”

The words “Visit Michigan.org for winter fun” are printed around the top of the cans. In additional, an information panel on the side of the cans features the Travel Michigan lighthouse logo and Web site address offering free travel information.

No word yet whether bottle returns will be able to be applied to The Rapid’s new plastic card for fares.

  • Former Business Journal staffers often make a bigger name for themselves upon leaving the newsroom and heading into other employment endeavors. DanCalabrese and his successful PR business, North Star Public Relations, come to mind.

Now add to that list former interns, too.

About four or five years ago, an energetic young woman by the name of JanetAdamy interned at the Journal, only after exploring other journalism sources offered to her by University of Michigan faculty and not being able to find the right fit.

She willingly admitted to not knowing much about business journalism, but promised to work hard and learn. She did, and by the end of the summer Janet left the newsroom with at least a rudimentary knowledge of how business works and what makes it tick.

We remember her father, RickAdamy, a partner in the accounting and consulting firm of Adamy+Company in Grand Rapids, calling to say that Janet enjoyed the internship and that it was nice to have her in GR for the summer.

My, how times change. Here’s Rick’s e-mail of last week to Business Journal Editor CaroleValade: “The news I wanted to share with you about Janet is that she has joined The Wall Street Journal as a reporter in Chicago. You may recall that she never really intended to be a business journalist — you got her started down that road. Look where it’s led! Thanks for getting her started.”

  • The “Taste of the Chamber” fundraiser last week drew member restaurants to offer samplings to a good-size crowd at DeVos Place, from Big Boy to San Chez. Judges from the culinary community were “tortured” with more than 20 plates of food but scored Sierra Room highest for best food and Frederik Meijer Gardens (café) for best display. One among the crowd commented after the announcements, “Meijer Gardens, best display? Duh.”

  • Another of Grand Rapids’ restaurant legends died last week after a fall and subsequent heart attack. Tom Tillman Sr., who continued to greet restaurant customers years after his “retirement,” left strict, written instructions for his sons, Larry and Tom Jr., not to host any public ceremony upon his death. “Senior” was well-know and well-liked among his customers and industry peers, who often came to one another’s restaurants for a night “off,” including the recently deceased Johnny Brann. His sons continue to run Tillman’s as one of the last examples of a true “Chicago” steakhouse. Tom Jr. continues the tradition of greeting customers (most by name) at the front door, though his father will no longer be in the booth behind him. “Junior” said so many former and current employees, customers and “regulars” wanted to do something, he has agreed to a wake-style memorial toast from 2 to 4 p.m., Monday, Feb. 23.    

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