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Healthcare providers hit by ailing economy

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7, 2008

With the stock markets sagging, gas prices increasing, and the economy ailing, doctors, dentists and hospitals are fighting to stay out of the red. Experts say it'll likely be a while before their higher costs are passed on to consumers, because salaries and other contracts are negotiated at intervals over the year. With medical inflation already running at 4.5% this year, compared with 4.1% for overall consumer prices, the rising costs will inevitably creep into patients' bills, experts say.