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Opening comments.

J Occup Environ Med 2013 Dec; 55(Suppl. 12S):S2
Welcome to the 2012 Total Worker Health(TM) Symposium: Safe, Healthy and Cost-Effective Solutions. Thank you, Dr. Merchant and everyone at the University of Iowa, for bringing us all together. I want to briefly talk to you about worker health and well-being - research, programs, laws and regulations. There are 311 million Americans in the United States and 155 million of those Americans are workers. Even though many of us who work have health insurance, there are some workers who have no health insurance and these are perhaps the most vulnerable of all workers. Many workers without health insurance work in the riskiest occupations, and they are assigned the riskiest work. Often their employment is very precarious. They suffer injury, illness, and death at a greater proportion than other workers - those more like the folks in this room - myself included, who are blessed with employer-sponsored health insurance. But whether you are in one group or the other, you are in a medical care system that is unsustainable. If you look at the percentage of the gross domestic product that the American health care system expends every year, and you project the current rate to 2030, such spending becomes economically unsustainable. It is impossible to run a country when 27% to 30% of the gross domestic product is tied up in health care. So, there is a problem. We all know it. There are still differing opinions about how to solve it, even today, even after the Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 (ACA), even after the Supreme Court reviewed and upheld it, and even after a presidential election occurred in which one candidate said he would repeal it and another candidate said he would go forward with it. It is a fact that the ACA is something that all of us, if we truly believe in Total Worker Health(TM), need to integrate into our thinking, our concepts, our programs, and our research.
Total-Worker-Health; Health-programs; Worker-health; Work-environment; Sociological-factors; Health-care; Medical-care; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Disease-prevention
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine