Don’t leave health care to the government, business group warns

The American health care system is sick, and it's up to the business community to nurse it back to health, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says.

According to U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue:

  • Rising health care costs should be a priority for company leaders – and not left to middle managers to resolve.
  • Individuals, insurers, medical providers, employers, and the government all play a role in a complicated system, but the private sector, which purchases health care for 136 million Americans, must lead.
  • If we leave things to the government, we'll find ourselves in a far bigger mess.

    Businesses are picking up more of the tab for the uninsured, says Donohue, and they're also paying more as providers, squeezed by Medicare and Medicaid, shift their costs to private payers:
  • Some 80 per cent of health care costs result from the treatment of about 20 per cent of the population afflicted with chronic diseases.
  • Fear of lawsuits prompts some physicians to provide "too much health care," resulting in unnecessary tests and redundant treatment;
  • Costs and quality: The health care system lacks reliable, "transparent" data on the cost, quality, and effectiveness of the services that customers pay for.

    Taken together, these factors are contributing to a cost trend that has major consequences for U.S. competitiveness," says Donohue.

    The Chamber advocates consumer-driven health care products, such as Health Savings Accounts, which – combined with a high-deductible health insurance plan – allow employees to save tax-free dollars to be used for many health care expenses.

    HSAs, the Chamber believes, will give consumers a better understanding of health care costs – and appreciation for quality service.

    Source: Susan Jones, Don't Leave Health Care to the Government, Business Group Warns,, April 19, 2006.

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    For more on Health:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 25 April 2006
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