02 December 2009 21:23 [Source: ICIS news]
MARCO ISLAND, Florida (ICIS news)--Resolution of the healthcare bill has to be a priority, especially for smaller businesses such as chemical distributors, the president of a major US insurance provider said on Wednesday.
Healthcare reform will impact the chemical business, and "as business people and Americans, this is the most important thing to resolve - especially for smaller businesses", said Mark Bertolini, president of Aetna.
Bertolini spoke at the opening ceremonies for the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) 38th annual meeting.
"The system is broken," Bertolini said, "and we have the obligation to improve it."
The Aetna president said that insurance premiums have risen 59% since 2000, while wages have only increased an average of 24%.
US healthcare is the most expensive globally, "but more expensive does not translate into better care", Bertolini said. He points out that in 2008 about $2,400bn (€1,600bn) was spent on healthcare in the US, but that $713bn-1,100bn was wasted in the system.
"If we go after the waste, we will have more than enough [money] to cover everyone" who is uninsured, Bertolini said.
Among Bertolini's suggestions for improvements were maintaining the employer-based system and "the exporting of its strengths to make the individual market function better", he said.
In addition, the system should be reoriented towards prevention, he said. Market incentives should be used to improve coverage and drive down costs, "making the system more consumer-oriented".
Bertolini projects that President Barack Obama will probably have a healthcare plan by the time of the state of the union address, to be given in January. "The process will get messy, but the President will have a bill or else he does not get re-elected," Bertolini said.
The NACD's annual meeting is taking place in Marco Island, Florida, until 4 December.
($1 = €0.66)
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