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The inalienable right.

On the 200th anniversary of the passage of the Bill of Rights, a poll by the AMA, revealed that over three-quarters of Americans think that the Constitution should ensure adequate health care coverage for everyone. Health care is considered an "inalienable right." Yet, 34 million Americans have no health care insurance and many millions more have inadequate coverage. For many Americans, the major issue facing the nation is the availability of quality health care at reasonable costs.

From all corners of our nation people are complaining about sky-rocketing health care costs. Over the past decade the rise in these costs has outstripped income by nearly two to one, threatening the economic security of many Americans families. Today the average U.S. family spends 12% of its income of health care, and this percentage is expected to grow.

Despite the escalating expenditure on health care, many Americans believe they are not getting quality medical services. Complaints about service have grown. Since the higher costs do not seem to equate to better care, some experts are recommending radical changes in the basic structure of American care. They are studying the systems in Canada and Europe to determine whether they can serve as models for the U.S. which spends far more per person on health care than other nations (for example, nearly twice that of Canada and Germany).

Business leaders have joined the crescending chorus demanding health care reforms. Today, businesses spend more on health care than they make in profits. Business spending on health care (including payment for health care insurance premiums, Medicare payroll taxes, worker compensation, disability and employee health benefits, and other general taxes for public health programs) has tripled since 1980, reaching $240 billion this year and is projected to double by the year 2000. For many years businesses have responded to the pressure by trying to push off to their employees some of these costs of health care coverage. Increasingly, many employers are requiring their workers to pick up more of their benefits costs, and others actually are cutting back employee health care coverage. In addition, they are trying to keep their costs down by negotiating aggressively with insurance companies. But there is a limit to what individual companies can do; consequently, business leaders are demanding that the government take some action.

Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum are crafting reforms which they claim will offer better delivery of health care services and improve management of health care costs. Though they offer widely differing philosophies and approaches to health care delivery and funding, these politicians are basic agreement that something must be done -- and soon -- to provide affordable coverage for all Americans. During this year's presidential election, the public debate will intensify on how to provide, and how to pay for, medical services.

In this issue of Directors & Boards our Chairman's Agenda explores how both the nation and the corporation can cope with the crisis in our health care system. Our authors provide valuable insights on both near-term cost-containment initiatives as well as longer-term health management strategies. Their commentaries offer a variety of ways for top executives and their boards to address the health care demands and requirements of their workers. Robert H. Rock, Chairman
COPYRIGHT 1992 Directors and Boards
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:health care
Author:Rock, Robert H.
Publication:Directors & Boards
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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