Walking The Talk

Why Health Care is the Business of Business

Anne Warhover framed

 Anne Warhover, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation.

Colorado's business leaders have enough on their minds simply dealing with the day-to day challenges of a slowly recovering economy, meeting payroll and making a profit. So why should they worry about health care?

Here's the short answer: Because they can't afford not to.

Businesses already pay the bulk of health care expenses through their employees' health insurance. Meanwhile, year after year, health insurance premiums continue to rise well above the rate of inflation. Let's not forget that the United States already spends a whopping 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care.

Obviously, the country's numerous health care challenges can't be solved with money alone. While private enterprise directly or indirectly underwrites the costs of simply sustaining the health care system, there are plenty of other areas where businesses can help improve the system so that costs can actually stabilize. Business leaders often ask me, "But what can I do to improve health care and contain costs? Isn't that up to doctors and hospitals?" I say, "There's a lot you can do!"

This issue of Health Elevations examines the proactive work of business in helping change the system for the better by leveraging its influences and thinking outside the box. For example, we'll show how IBM and Dow Chemical are promoting the "medical home" concept – a comprehensive approach to primary care that holds much promise for improving quality and controlling costs.

In this month's "The Expert View" section, Richard C. Lord, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, explains the pros and cons of his state's ground-breaking reform efforts and its effect on businesses.

This month's "What's Working" section highlights local executives who are participating in the Center for Improving Value in Health Care's efforts to contain rising health care costs, reduce insurance premiums, and improve health and quality of care for Coloradans. Another "What's Working" feature looks at how CaridianBCT's on-site clinic has benefited workers at the Lakewood-based company.

These and other stories clearly demonstrate what business leaders can do to make a difference in the value of health care and help achieve the goal of making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.

It's important that Colorado businesses get involved in improving health care because it's the right thing to do for their employees and for the overall health and well-being of communities throughout Colorado. There's also a common-sense approach involved: A healthy (and more productive) workforce and health care system will lead to a healthier economy and bottom line.

Speaking frankly, that's just good business.


Anne Warhover Signature

Anne Warhover, President and CEO
The Colorado Health Foundation