The employer-based health care system is failing and is adversely affecting the public health, as well as the financial wellbeing of private industry and the nation’s position as a global economic superpower. Health care policy and public health experts are increasingly calling for major health care reform and an end to the incremental changes in the for-profit, market-driven sector of our health care economy.
Largely because of health care costs, businesses large and small are experiencing such severe financial difficulties that they are both discontinuing or minimizing benefits and outsourcing or changing the nature of their labor forces toward either minimum wage or part-time employment. Simultaneously, wages have stagnated and personal private health insurance is unaffordable for most. Indeed, half of our nation’s uninsured are employed full time, and the number of uninsured now exceeds forty-five million. More than eight hundred thousand Hoosiers lack coverage.
The nation now spends close to fifteen percent of its GDP on health care and spends twice as much per capita as any other nation. Despite our high rate of spending, measures of public health indicate that our health is worse than health in other industrialized countries. Administrative costs in health care simply to handle private insurance divert hundreds of billions of dollars annually from the direct provision of health care. The private health insurance industry routinely experiences inflation of three to four times the general rate, enjoys huge profit margins, discriminates against the sick and minorities, and adds no value to the health care sector. Economists agree that these trends are unsustainable. We concur and maintain that, in the absence of major federal reform, Indiana must seriously examine alternatives.
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