REFORMING HEALTH CARE
May 8, 2007
Because of the alarming growth of health care costs in the United States, waiting until 2012 or beyond is simply not good enough for the millions of uninsured Americans, businesses struggling to provide affordable benefits or the insured who fight to keep up with rising costs for coverage and care, says Steve Burd, CEO of Safeway Inc.
- At the current growth rate, health care costs will be 25 percent of the United States gross domestic product by 2012.
- By next year, the average Fortune 500 firm will have a health care bill that exceeds its net income.
- And today, 47 million Americans are living and raising their families without health insurance.
Fortunately, there are ways to help fix the problem, says Burd. Among them:
- Allow market forces to work; through consumer orientation and transparency the United States can create a health care system that delivers better outcomes and lowers costs.
- Provide financial assistance, enabling all Americans to have the routine and preventive health care they need through traditional venues, physicians and clinics, instead of emergency rooms.
- Design better health plans, which promote healthy behavior starting with prevention and wellness and incorporating full-care management programs for those with chronic and acute conditions.
- Enable individuals to purchase health care in the same tax-advantaged way as businesses do now; health-care premiums are tax-deductible to business, but not to individuals -- the time has come to end this World War II-era policy and level the playing field.
The private sector can bring innovative solutions to the table, says Burd. We can put our economy on the path to thrive in the global marketplace without the weight of this broken system holding it back. Through smart reforms, we can reduce this country's health-care bill by 25 percent and in a way that doesn't require large revenue increases.
Source: Steve Burd, "Reforming Health Care," Washington Times, May 7, 2007.
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