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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Health Care Costs Continue to Rise

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

With 45 million Americans uninsured, the rising cost of health care is a topic we, literally, cannot afford to ignore. In North Texas alone, it’s predicted that in 2006 a typical worker will spend about $700 more on health care than in 2005.

Some of the factors that contribute to these rising costs are an aging population, lifestyle choices such as smoking and not exercising regularly, the costs of prescription drugs, the cost of caring for the uninsured being shifted to those who do pay for health care and the expense of new medical technology.

However, the question remains: “How do we control rising health care costs?”

Some suggest forcing consumers to become more efficient health care users by raising deductibles and co-pays. Others propose increasing the reliance on managed care, which would lower costs by limiting choices of doctors and medication. Another idea is the expansion of the role of government in health care.

The last idea may be the only viable option for tackling this issue. Our legislators and candidates for public office are aware of Americans’ increasing frustration, and you can expect to see multiple versions of national health care plans as mid-term elections approach next year.

Ultimately, our lawmakers must be the catalyst for articulating a national policy that provides all Americans with accessible and effective health care.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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