Health Care Costs Hurt America's Competitiveness

March 12, 2009 ( - The first annual "Business Roundtable Health Care Value Comparability Study" indicates the costs and performance of the U.S. health care system have put America's companies and workers at a significant competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace.

According to a press release, the report combines internationally reported measures covering both spending on, and the performance of, national health care systems to assign a value to the U.S. health care system compared with important global competitors. On a weighted scale, the results show that U.S. workers and employers receive 23% less value from the American health care system than the average of five leading economic competitors – Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France (the “G-5 group”) – and 46% less value than the average of emerging competitors Brazil, India and China (the “BIC group”).

The study also shows that, as a group, the G-5 countries spend approximately $0.63 cents for every dollar the United States spends on health care – yet the health of the U.S. workforce lags by 10% in a composite measure, the announcement said. The three BIC countries spend just 15% of what the U.S. spends on health care, yet the health of the U.S. workforce trails that of BIC countries by 5%.

“Health care costs are one of the top cost pressures facing American businesses today, inhibiting job creation and hurting America’s ability to compete in global markets,” said Harold McGraw III, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies, in the announcement.

“This study shows a significant health care value gap,” said Ivan Seidenberg, Chair of Business Roundtable’s Consumer Health and Retirement Initiative and Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. “While, in many respects, the employer-based health care system in the United States is the best in the world – we have groundbreaking scientific advances, cutting-edge medical technology, and exceptional doctors and medical institutions – the business model supporting it doesn’t meet Americans’ needs. When we spend more to get less, we all lose – workers, employers and the government.”

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