Tuesday, October 17, 2006

St. Chevy Hospital? It nearly happened

Thursday, September 28, 2006
St. Chevy Hospital? It nearly happened
Ron French / The Detroit News

Fed up with inefficiencies in the U.S. medical system, General Motors Corp. considered opening its own health care facilities in 2003.

The audacious plan called for GM to own and operate its own clinics and hospitals in as many as a half-dozen communities in the Midwest. In the end, the automaker decided the facilities would have cost more than they saved.

The plan reveals the depth of frustration at GM over the state of the U.S. health care industry, which is the most expensive in the world but offers, by most global standards, mediocre care.

"There were regions where not only were costs out of control, but the quality of care was not what it should be," said Dr. Joel Bender, medical director for GM. "We decided we needed to look at GM facilities."

GM has workers, retirees and their families spread across the country, but 51 percent of its health care costs are concentrated in 10 communities. Changing health care in those communities could have a notable impact on GM's $5.3 billion health care tab. GM considered options, from buying existing hospitals to operating rehabilitation facilities to opening pharmacies in its plants.

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