Thursday, April 01, 2004
MEDC Study Lays Groundwork for Strategy
The study, conducted by Altarum of Ann Arbor, says the state should redouble efforts to promote health and disease prevention, approve legislation to promote the regulation of insurance premiums, encourage wider use of generic drugs and continue efforts to save money by forming multi-state coalitions; and fully-utilize the federal resources available to address the costs associated with the uninsured and publicly insured individuals.
"The results of this study will help us devise a strategy to help make health care more affordable for employers and citizens alike," said MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway. "Health care costs are a major consideration when companies are looking to invest or expand in the state. We need to address this problem if we are to remain competitive in the world market."
The study released today indicates that Michigan's health care costs are not markedly different than other states, although per capita expenditures on drugs are almost 14 percent higher in Michigan. These costs are among several factors identified by the study that need to be improved if Michigan businesses are to remain competitive.
"Encouraging better employee health has the potential to reap benefits for Michigan workers and our economy overall," said MEDC Board of Directors Chairman Matt Cullen. "To overcome the problems that this study reveals will take a concerted effort from both the private and public sectors, but the good news is that steps can be taken that will improve the healthiness of our state."
The study found that Michigan has the highest rates of death from coronary heart disease, ranks second for obesity and diabetes, and ranks sixth for smoking when compared to any of the benchmark states in the study.
According to the study, overweight and obese individuals can expect to incur up to $1,500 in additional medical costs every year because of their unhealthy lifestyles. Those costs are often borne by Michigan employers through higher health care insurance premiums.
The benchmark states compared in the study are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The study offered four recommendations that could potentially help Michigan reduce health care costs and premiums:
redouble statewide efforts to promote health and disease prevention through workplace initiatives and educational opportunities;
introduce legislation to restructure the insurance industry to promote the regulation of insurance premiums;
focus efforts to reduce prescription drug costs by encouraging wider use of generic drugs and continue efforts to increase purchasing power by forming multi-state coalitions; and
fully utilize the federal resources available to address the costs associated with the uninsured and publicly insured individuals.
"In the Governor's State of the State Address, she outlined a seven-point plan to make Michigan an economic powerhouse and to maintain the high quality of life and few things affect the quality of life and the quality of our work more than good health," said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "One critical way we can make our economy stronger is to address the issues outlined in the Altarum report and work toward making health care more accessible and affordable for the people of Michigan."
In the coming weeks, Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan's Surgeon General, will launch several programs designed to improve the health of Michigan citizens, address racial disparities, and serve as watershed initiatives as the Michigan Department of Community Health strives to create a Healthier Michigan.
The first effort, entitled Healthy Michigan 2010, will make its debut next week. Other programs, including the Prescription for a Healthier Michigan and Michigan Steps Up!-a healthy lifestyles campaign-will debut later this spring.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.