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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Drawing a Fine Line

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

We’ve spent much of the past year talking about the various ways businesses are shifting more of the cost of health care to their employees. That trend is likely to continue for some time to come. According to a survey by the global professional services firm, Towers Perrin, most large employers expect health care costs to increase in 2006 by an average of 8 percent for the second year in a row.

While it makes sense for employees to take more ownership of their health care – and more responsibility for their health care choices -- it also makes sense for employers to keep their own cost-cutting in perspective. Business leaders must not lose sight of the fine line between cost savings and the costs to society of uninsured workers.

The latest statistics place the number of uninsured Americans at 45 million, and some experts predict that number will rise to 80 million in two years. Most of the uninsured are people with jobs. It’s clear that businesses have a significant stake in the health status of the American workforce.

Although it’s understandable that businesses must protect their bottom line, it should not be at the expense of basic – and affordable – health insurance for their workers. Most employees simply cannot afford health insurance without their employers’ help.

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

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