Employers throughout West Michigan continue to feel the crushing impact of rising healthcare costs. Nationally, year-over-year increases in health insurance premium costs have exceeded the overall inflation rate since 2000 by about a four-to-one margin. Figure 1-1 highlights the magnitude of health insurance premium increases relative to increases in workers’ earnings and increases in overall inflation from 2000 through 2007. And when we look at Michigan residents’ health, there are some alarming trends that, left unchecked, could further exacerbate our state’s economic woes. In a recently released study by the United Health Foundation and Partnership for Prevention, Michigan ranked as the 31st healthiest state, slipping four spots from last year’s ranking.2 (Note the lower the ranking the better.) The 2007 survey ranked Vermont as the healthiest state. Here are some interesting discoveries from the annual study: Michigan’s adult obesity rate has more than doubled since 1990 from 14.1% to 28.8%. This exceeds the national average by about 4 percent and places Michigan in the 44th position for this significant health risk. Michigan’s smoking rate exceeds the national average, placing Michigan in the 38th position for this leading health risk. Michigan’s alcohol consumption rate exceeds the national average, placing Michigan in the 39th position for this major health risk.