Our current health care system has finally reached its tipping point. The cycle of higher premiums and lowered benefits have forced many businesses to cut back significantly on employer contributions or altogether abandon employee health care plans.
As people lose employer coverage, more turn to Medicaid—increasing financial strain on government health care programs that already have a budget of $2.4 trillion. State health care programs are cutting back, too; Washington’s Basic Health Plan will likely cut 40% of current enrollees due to budget cuts.
Few can foot the monthly bill for non-subsidized private insurance with health care costs topping $8,000 per person this year. Lost coverage inevitably leads to emergency room visits for routine illnesses, presenteeism, and lost productivity when a child is ill, continuing the upward spiral in costs to employers, policy holders and taxpayers and downward spiral in coverage for everyone.
Our current health insurance system is broken. Those loyal to the Hippocratic Oath are disconnected from those who are loyal only to shareholders. This has led to a world-class health care system in which 1 in 6 Americans cannot afford coverage because of a substandard insurance structure.
President Obama recognized this, and responded by convening a health care forum which is meeting today (3.05.2009) to tackle these issues.
Investing in a health care system now that values fairness and responsibility will lower costs across the board. It will make businesses more competitive, keep Americans healthier and reduce long-term costs to local, state and the federal government.
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