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Of all the ills plaguing the U.S. economy, perhaps no single factor is as responsible for our current malaise as the cost burden of health care, and the attendant results of a poorly functioning health system. That burden, coupled with a model that rewards consumers for unhealthy behaviors while dis-incentivizing them to take greater personal responsibility for their health and wellness, severely impedes competition and limits profitability. Fix health care, and we go a long way toward fixing the economy, restoring our country’s critical leadership position of stoking global economic prosperity in the process.
Our health care crisis has two fronts: cost and accessibility. Americans spend more on health care than residents of any other country ($2.2 trillion in 2007, or $7,421 per capita — from the National Coalition on Health Care), yet some 46 million lack health care. Because these skyrocketing health care costs threaten the stability of families, businesses and our economy, most sectors of society are prepared — and even eager — to accept wide-sweeping changes that promise to fix the currently malfunctioning system. For its part, the government sees a need for considerably greater intervention and oversight, and is presently driving the dialog around proposed solutions and new paradigms of care.
For a solution to work, and work quickly, it must be built on a foundation of in-place touch points with American consumers. Of all the hubs of health care activity in the existing overarching delivery system, food and drug retailers provide the greatest touch points with consumers in terms of:
• access, frequency of interaction and pre-existing relationships of trust and loyalty
• an embedded part of the consumer workflow
• ability to deliver powerful incentives and education to motivate desired behavior
Yet, retail is largely overlooked as an important participant in plans to re-engineer the health care system. How can retail become the vital change agent for health care reform and economic stability? The answer lies in solidarity: all players in the retail health care sector must come together in a cohesive fashion, develop a revised model of health care delivery and insist upon a place at the table where health care will be reformed for our country.
It will require we move beyond short-term competitive issues in order to forge a vision. It will require we collectively flex our muscle and insist on representation in the development and implementation of that vision. And it will take single-minded determination to see that vision become the working model for a reformed health care delivery system. If not, retailers will continue to suffer from the imposition of wasteful, poorly conceived legislation and regulations that further hinder their own growth and profitability.
To read the complete White Paper report from Nazaruk, visit http://www.progressivegrocer.com/progressivegrocer/research-analysis/stay-well.jsp