Mark M. O'Connell and Tim Kaine
As final negotiations on health insurance reform continue, the debate has centered on achieving three basic goals: more security for insured Americans, affordable and quality insurance for the uninsured, and strategies to reduce the unsustainable growth in healthcare costs. There are many different ideas about how to accomplish these objectives. All agree, however, that the end goal of reform is individual health.
Although lifelong friends, we lie on opposite sides of the political spectrum as a Democratic Governor and a Republican CEO. You might expect us to differ on our approach to the issue of healthcare; however, we've found common ground in the debate by focusing on employee health as the key. By developing a culture of wellness within our companies and organizations, we can ensure healthcare reform achieves our goals. But no reform effort will deliver good health results--or cut costs--if our population lives increasingly unhealthy lives.
The experience of
Changing human behavior is admittedly difficult. But the workplace offers the ideal environment to engage individuals. Organizations can implement a culture of wellness into the workplace and change behaviors over time. Multi Service instituted its first corporate wellness program, FitU, in
The success of Multi Service's program can be replicated by other businesses, and the evidence is convincing that the effort is worthwhile. The percentage of employees that smokes cigarettes is down from nearly 27 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2008 thanks to the promotion of smoking cessation programs. The average percentage of employees that suffers from frequent stress, headaches or migraines, or symptoms of depression is down 7.2 percent. The percentage of severely obese employees is down from 5.5 percent in 2004 to 3.8 percent in 2008--much closer to the national average--and a six-month long
Although the size of its workforce is dramatically larger, the Commonwealth of
The results in
Whether organizations are working to maximize their revenue or to stretch the reach of limited taxpayer dollars, notable savings can be achieved by living healthier. A 2005 study by the
As the nation continues to debate healthcare reform, we must remember the end goal is health. By educating individuals and promoting advantages of a healthy lifestyle nationally, our country can reap so many benefits--financial and otherwise. At the same time, by encouraging employers to implement constructive and engaging wellness-related programs--and rewarding them for measurable outcomes--America can achieve the most affordable and effective version of reform possible.
Makeover for Health Care
Anne Kates Smith
Amid heated protests, marathon negotiations and provocative advertising campaigns, U.S. lawmakers vow to change health care as we know it by Christmas. Here's the latest on what the new system might look like
One of President Obama's biggest challenges this fall will be persuading seniors to accept his healthcare proposals. Many elderly voters are deeply worried about 'Obama-care' because they fear that his plans will reduce their coverage and increase their costs. Seniors, in fact, are more opposed to Obama's healthcare ideas than any other age group.
Obama's Never Ending Healthcare Campaign
Kenneth T. Walsh
On issue after issue, every imaginable political organization, constituency group, and self-styled movement seems to feel it necessary not only to state its case but to wage an election-style campaign to advance its interests. The goal is to mobilize public opinion and take on the opposition, often by using hype, distortion, negativity, and name calling.
To Cut Health Care Costs, Let's Start With the Secret Prices
Bernadine Healy M.D.
As President Obama said again in his recent address to Congress, an imperative for health reform is containing runaway health costs. Look at a colonoscopy: When paid by Medicare, the fee is roughly $450. Consumers' ignorance of what services truly cost blurs the connection between their rising insurance premiums and prices, setting the stage for those prices to soar ever higher.
Time for Some Hard Choices on Health Reform: Revenue-neutral is not enough
Mortimer B. Zuckerman
Cost is the central dilemma facing the ambitious healthcare reform plan of President Obama to introduce a universal, new system of healthcare that will extend coverage to millions of people of limited means. Quite simply, it threatens to break an already fractured bank.
Health Reform Could Get You Hired
If healthcare reform makes insurance much more affordable to individuals and businesses, it could result in a greater variety of career options for workers. For one thing, it would reduce barriers to entrepreneurship. Reform also could make it easier for workers to leave employers to whom they are job-locked, or committed to solely for health benefits--a situation more common to older workers and those with pre-existing conditions.
The Senate Finance Committee put forth a new healthcare bill that removes those penalties on businesses. Instead, it offers carrots to employers that provide healthcare, while keeping a few sticks. The bill, associated with its main sponsor, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, seeks to expand insurance coverage through the creation of nonprofit insurance exchanges at the state level. These exchanges will be open to small businesses with up to 100 employees
Only the most blinkered of partisans can look at the "individual mandate" and not see it as the answer to the health insurance industry's prayers. It is a law that forces everyone to buy its product. What industry would not want this. That's what the individual mandate does for the health insurance industry. Not only would it force us to buy health insurance, but the 535 members of Congress, after hearing from every health insurance lobbyist in Washington, would decide exactly what coverage we need.
An Individual Mandate for Health Insurance Would Benefit All
William H. Frist
Let's face it, in a country as productive and advanced as ours, every American deserves affordable access to healthcare delivered at the right time. And they don't have it today. It is time for an individual health insurance mandate for a minimum level of health coverage. Catastrophic coverage would be an appropriate place to start.
No Such Thing as an Unpaid Bill
My favorites are the few beet-faced droolers who show up at town-hall meetings to rail against government involvement, while simultaneously warning President Obama to 'keep your hands off my Medicare' -- the biggest, costliest, most socialistic government program in U.S. history. It's also a program that happens to work, although not nearly as efficiently as it could.
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Healthcare - Healthy Living is the Key to Healthcare Savings
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