Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder
As America waits for the Supreme Court to rule on the Affordable Care Act, there's one thing we know for sure: The health care law misses the point on the reforms needed in our health care system and has been a detriment to our country's economic recovery by causing massive uncertainty regarding medical costs, thereby discouraging job creation. No matter how the justices rule or what steps Congress takes next, one of the biggest problems with health care will remain the same. And it's up to us in Michigan to do something about it.
That problem is all about wellness – the individual decisions we make every day that affect our health and wellbeing. Treating chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke and dementia accounts for 75 percent of health care expenditures. In fact, if Michiganders were to take better care of themselves, the state could save $13 billion each year in annual health care costs.
Those costs are on the rise, even with the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, the average annual health care premium for a family was 31 percent higher than it was in 2006 and 113 percent higher than in 2001. In fact, last year was the first year that the cost of family coverage was set to exceed $15,000. Employers and employees alike are getting hit with higher health care costs, wages are being driven down, and some employers are stopping coverage altogether.
While it may take Washington some time to straighten out our nation's health care policy, as individuals in Michigan we can take immediate action to improve our personal wellness. Working with the Michigan Department of Community Health, I have developed a solution called the "Michigan Health and Wellness 4x4 Plan." Here's what it's all about.
Together, we need to practice four key healthy behaviors -- main a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical examination and avoid all tobacco use and exposure. The other half of the 4x4 Plan is knowing your four key health measures -- your body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood glucose level. If we can stick to practicing a healthy lifestyle and keeping an eye on these important measurements, we can go a long way toward saving lives, reducing disability and lowering health care costs.
To be sure, there are policy changes that should be made to help increase access to health care, reduce costs and improve care. Just this week, I signed a budget that gives some 91,000 additional children access to good dental care; grants $49.1 million to fund the diagnosis and treatment of autism; allots $11.8 million to reduce the number of individuals on the waiting list for the MIChoice home-and-community-based waiver program; and spends $7 million on health and wellness initiatives.
Nationally, the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. In addition to addressing wellness, our nation needs to make a systematic review of the cost structures of our health care system. We have great people in our system. But we have built a system that focuses on spending more and more to solve acute care problems rather than a patient-centered medical home model focused on the overall wellbeing of the patient.
Going forward, I'm going to work with our legislature and with Washington to deliver the best health care results for the people of Michigan. And I'm also going to work with partners in state government, schools, local communities and businesses to spread the word about the 4x4 Plan. But in the meantime, all of us should act now to effect the change that's within our control. And that starts with each and every one of us leading a healthier life.