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Health Care USA: A Cancer on the American Dream

Posted By Louise Probst, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

This report brings it all together: how rising health care costs have pushed the American Dream beyond the reach of most Americans, and how we all participated.

 

It was authored by two Towers Watson Consultants, Sylvester J. Schieber (retired) and Steven Nyce, and supported by the Council for Affordable Coverage. Analysis of wage and health care premium data from the 1980s onward, is used to demonstrate that the out-of-control growth in the cost of employer-provided health benefits has had a significant and negative impact on American workers. It shrinks workers' wage growth, erodes contributions to their retirement savings, and fuels growing income inequality.

 

All workers have been impacted; however, lower income earners have suffered the most. Rising health care costs have completely wiped out pay increases for the bottom 60% of U.S. workers over a thirty-plus year period. In 2001, 42% of the dollars spent to provide employee benefits went to health care and 58% to retirement. In 2015, 63.5% went to health benefits and 36% to retirement.

 

"So why has the United States, a nation that has led the world in productivity, done such a miserable job in organizing and delivering health care?"

 

The authors not only ask but also answer this question. Using both stories and statistics, they reveal how the organization and delivery of health care services in the U.S. is designed to sustain high cost. The failure of the federal government over this period to protect the public from anti-competitive mergers and the subsequent out-of-control price inflation is called out as a major contributor.

 

The final call to action is focused on employers: "While we all contribute to the problem to some degree - providers, purchasers, and consumers alike - only employers have both the means and the incentive to improve a value proposition in a health market that is so completely skewed toward the sellers and away from the buyers."

 

It's a long and worthwhile read (click here to view full report). Your thoughts and insights are appreciated.

 

Warm regards,

Louise Probst
BHC Executive Director


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