The Flint Journal (August,26 1990)

America's Healthcare Crisis Deepening

By: Michael Westfall


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Our health care system has become a basket case and is causing the hemorrhaging of America's big-ticket production capacity by wasting billions of dollars yearly for inefficient healthcare that is adversely affecting our international competition.

This dilemma is nicking away at our economy by forcing upward the price of every product we produce. This is placing the jobs of millions of American workers in jeopardy. The cost of medical plans increased 20 percent in 1989 and management attempts to cut health benefits were the cause of 78 percent of the strikes in 1989.

Health care costs in this nation eat up almost 12 percent of our entire gross national product (GNP). If health care costs continue to rise at today's rates we will be spending more than 15 percent of our GNP on health care by the year 2000.

Domestic automakers now spend more than $6000 per year for health care for each employee or about $680 for each vehicle produced. Assuming health care costs continue at today's rate of increase, this will translate into $980 for employee health care costs for every domestic vehicle produced in 1993.

At that rate just how much longer will America's premier manufacturing industries remain premier when Japanese competitors only spent 6.7 percent of their GNP or $223 per vehicle produced, for healthcare?

Ironically, even with the outrageous costs we spend for health care, we still have 37 million Americans who lack health insurances and do not qualify for Medicaid, the federal state program aimed at providing health care to the poor.

One injury or illness will start victims through a hospital's emergency room doors, which could take them years of struggling just to pay the bill.

Many arrive at the emergency room with expensive problems that if treated earlier may have been minimized or even prevented.

The rocketing costs are reflected to tax payers in the funding of Medicaid and private hospitals.

The health insurance crisis in this country exceeds even what our largest unions can hope to address at the negotiating table.

Our social system is the most envied and successful in the history of mankind.

There will be very definite penalties for not correcting our health care crisis if we fail and profound benefits when we succeed.



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