Health Insurance Costs Rise Sharply
Genetically Modified Foods Not Yet Labeled in U.S.
Hispanic Population Life Expectancy
Hospital Energy Management

Health Insurance Costs Rise Sharply

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer is $15,073 in 2011, an increase of 9% over the previous year. While the demand for health care appears to be growing relatively slowly, insurers and benefit consultants say prices for medical care continue to rise as prescription drug makers and hospitals charge more.

Over all, the cost of family coverage has about doubled since 2001, when premiums averaged $7,061, compared with only a 34% gain in wages over the same period.

The annual growth in premiums, according to the survey, had slowed in recent years to 5%, rising just 3% in 2010, in part due to the recession. After several years of double-digit increases, the moderate rise was a welcome change of pace.

Genetically Modified Foods Not Yet Labeled in U.S.

An estimated 80% of processed foods sold in the U.S. contain genetically modified organisms. However, GMO foods are not labeled as such even though 93% of Americans support mandatory labeling.

More than 40 countries around the world require labeling of foods that contain GMOs including Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Japan, Russian and China.

About one-third of Americans (35%) believe that GMO foods are safe to eat, with 52% saying they are unsafe, and an additional 13% saying they are unsure about them.

The following chart shows the disparity in image between GMO and organic foods. While only 5% of Americans say they’d be more likely to purchase a food labeled as genetically modified, 52% say they’d be more likely to purchase food that is labeled as having been raised organically.

Organic vs. GMO Foods

Source: poll, June 2011

Hispanic Population Life Expectancy

The U.S. Hispanic population had the lowest median age (27.4 years) compared to other racial/ethnic groups in 2006 (the most recent data available). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this group will also live longer than other Americans as shown below.

Average Life Expectancy for American Men and Women, by Race/Ethnicity, 2010

Hospital Energy Management

A 2011 survey of U.S. hospitals (2011 Hospital Energy Management Survey) shows that a majority of organizations are not yet taking basic recommended steps such as performing regular energy audits, creating a strategic master energy plan, using commissioning of existing buildings or following the Green Guide for Health Care to monitor baseline energy performance. Below is a summary of survey findings:

  1. Acute care hospitals are one of the biggest energy users, resulting in health care ranking second behind the food-service industry in total energy consumed per square foot among commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy.
  2. Most main hospital buildings – including those of 69% of the survey respondents – still are more than 20 years old. (The performance of energy-consuming systems degrades by as much as 30% in the first few years of operation, per the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.)
  3. About 28% said they perform an energy audit in their acute care hospital at least annually, while another 25% said they do theirs every two to three years, results that were much like the 2006 survey. (Experts say the exact time between audits isn’t as important as doing them regularly and following up on the recommendations.)
  4. Some 43% saw annual energy costs rise from the previous year, with the most common response (30%) being an increase of between one and five percent. However almost as many (40%) reported lower costs, likely derived from a combination of energy efficiency efforts and a reduction in rates in some areas.
  5. At least 25% set an energy budget and performance targets, and monitor them annually (38%), and participate in Energy Star (29%, up from 14% in 2006).
  6. Energy reduction strategies by at least 75% included preventive maintenance, light-emitting diode exit signs, and electronic ballast and energy-efficient lamps. Other efforts were buying Energy Star-certified products (55%), upgrading building control systems (53%) or implementing energy conservation programs (49%).
  7. Energy saving strategies incorporated into health care renovation projects included using higher-efficiency HVAC equipment (51%) and retrocommissioning and/or reduced-lighting power density and occupancy controls (30%).
  8. Two-thirds (66%) participate in a demand-response program, committing to run their emergency generators to alleviate load/stress on the grid.
  9. Other energy-management strategies included HVAC/air handling improvements (37%), lighting system improvements (24%) and water heater, steam or heat recovery (13%).


  • Americans increased their cooking and eating of ethnic dishes by 29% in 2010 over 2009. The quickest growing cuisines are from South America, Japan and Korea.
  • Men who recently became fathers say they have trouble sticking to an exercise routine (45%) and maintaining friendships (38%) since having children.
  • Some 77% of consumers say they would like to see lower-calorie menu options at restaurants. In addition, consumers want to know about menu items that accommodate allergies (53%), low-sodium items (52%), ingredient lists (51%), gluten-free items (27%), and peanut- and nut-free items (22%).

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