Health Highlights: Sept. 4, 2008

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Thursday, September 4, 2008; 12:00 AM

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors ofHealthDay:

U.S. Workers Face Higher Health Care Costs

About 59 percent of U.S. companies plan to control rising health costs in 2009 by increasing employees' deductibles, co-pays or out-of-pocket spending limits, according to a survey released Thursday by the Mercer consulting firm.

Mercer said health care costs for both employers and workers will increase an average of 5.7 percent next year, the same as this year's increase, theAssociated Pressreported. There was a 6.1 percent increase in 2007.

Since 2005, annual increases in health care costs have been around 6 percent, compared to double-digit increases in previous years, Mercer said. Even with single-digit increases, health care costs are outpacing inflation and workers' wages.

Mercer said that between 2003 and 2007, the average deductible increased from $250 to $400 for a single person and from $1,000 to $1,500 for a family, theAssociated Pressreported.

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Study Finds 27% of University Students Addicted to Tanning

Tanning dependence -- with symptoms similar to alcohol and drug dependence -- was reported by 27 percent of students at a large American university, according to a study by Carolyn Heckman of Fox Chase Cancer Center and colleagues.

The study included 400 students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who took part in an online survey used to measure traditional substance abuse and dependence,United Press Internationalreported.

In this case, the survey measures were used to assess: an increasing need to tan frequently; discomfort when not having tanned recently; and difficulty controlling tanning behavior despite awareness of negative consequences such as freckles, wrinkles and increased risk of skin cancer.

"We were surprised to find that 27 percent of those we surveyed were classified as tanning dependent," Heckman said in a news release,UPIreported "The finding that almost 40 percent of those surveyed had used tanning booths and that the mean age when tanning booths were first used was 17 is also alarming."


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