Watching health care costs over the last several years feels like that old episode of "The Twilight Zone" where the guy keeps trying to leave town and ends up in the same place over and over again. Year after year - for the past five years now - health care costs have risen between 7% and 8%. The cost to employers to offer health insurance to their employees has risen as much or more: They paid an annual average premium of $15,073 for family coverage in 2011, an increase of 9% over the previous year and double the amount of a decade ago.

Nowhere is this benefits cost pressure felt more strongly than among government employers. Their revenues plummeted more than 22% between 2008 and 2009, mostly because of reduced tax income. And they're facing rising expenses on other fronts, too. For example, during the same time frame, research shows that state and local government spending on unemployment compensation jumped 86%.

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