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The faltering economy is more than just a headline to Dave and Karen Hammerschmidt of Quakertown, PA. Like millions of other Americans caught in the squeeze between higher health care costs and lower incomes, the Hammerschmidts are having an increasingly difficult time paying for rising premiums, larger co-payments, and more medications with shrinking paychecks. Dave Hammerschmidt travels four hours each day to work his construction job while Karen takes care of the house and juggles the bills. And the news is getting worse: where once the Hammerschmidts depended on their home to provide equity for hard times, these days they are seeing even the value of that investment rapidly declining.

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